Covering Louisiana

Jul 21, 2013 1:12 PM by katc

LSU AgCenter works to clear turtles

Louisiana turtle farmers are providing research money to the LSU AgCenter in its effort to convince federal agencies that baby turtles are safe as pets and should be allowed in interstate commerce.

The Food and Drug Administration banned interstate sales of pet baby turtles in 1975 because of fears of salmonella. Since then, LSU AgCenter researchers have been working with turtle farmers to try to get the turtles approved for commerce.

AgCenter Associate Vice Chancellor Phil Elzer said the state's turtle industry has struggled for years because of the ban.

AgCenter scientists have developed methods for treating turtle eggs to assure newborn turtles are more than 99 percent salmonella free. But government officials remain concerned the small turtles could become salmonella carriers.

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