Black Market Turtles Legal in Washington, Illegal in Oregon

Black Market Turtles Legal in Washington, Illegal in Oregon »Play Video
KENNEWICK-- After saying red-eared slider turtles are illegal in both Oregon and Washington, the Fish and Wildlife officials clarified that they are legal in Washington, but illegal in Oregon.

Oregon State Police found 728 prohibited turtles when they raided a Hermiston home earlier this month.

After Action News aired the story, tips started to pour in. People had bought the red-eared sliders at flea markets and festivals all over Washington and eastern Oregon.

Melannie Dickinson bought some at a local pet store, and was relieved to hear the news that her daughter can legally keep them.

"My daughter's really going to be happy that she doesn't have to get rid of it," said Dickinson. "When I told her that we might, she was really upset, so I'm glad."

Even though the turtles are legal in Washington now, reps from the ODFW said they are considering instituting a ban similar to the one in Oregon.

"It's amazing what you can find in flea markets that aren't legal," said Mike Long, who owns Aqua Tropics Pet Store.

Long sells red-eared sliders occasionally, and said restrictions are instituted for good reason. The turtles can spread salmonella, and take over native species. He said there is a safe way to buy and sell them.

"We actually don't just sell them to anybody," he said. "We actually explain what is required to keep them and the health problems and everybody that buys one also gets a care sheet."

If you have a red-eared slider and you live in Washington, you're OK, as long as you don't release it into the wild or take it across state lines.

If you live in Oregon, call ODFW or OSP immediately. You won't be penalized.