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Turtle Stew

Posted 4/1/2009

It is nice to know America's safer because turtle entrepreneur Mike Johnson is under investigation for violations of the Lacey Act ("Fear the Turtle," Feature, March 18).

My father caught a few snappers near our home at the confluence of Red House and Herring Run in the 1950s to augment his trap-line earnings. They are tough creatures that would make the Terminator salute in envy. The heads and hearts will live for a long time after they have been removed during the gutting process. Dad caught a few that exceeded 50 pounds.

A poor family near us used to probe for them with long poles in the mud where they hibernated. The population never seemed to get impacted by the trapping pressure in such a small area.

Snappers are first-class predators that are hard on ducklings. If one bites you, its jaws have to be forced open by mechanical means.

The real tragedy here is that Mike Johnson is the victim, not the turtles.

Bernard T. Walker
Baltimore

Snapping turtles are not an endangered species. In the spring and summer in rural areas, you can find them sunning themselves in the middle of the road. People stop their cars and pick them up (carefully) and carry them to the shoulder. When I lived in North Carolina, my neighbor was known in the county as a good turtle cook. People brought him snappers they picked up on the road. Morgan put the turtles in a tank, fed them up for a couple of months, and then we would eat them parboiled and fried. They were excellent.

Eating wild-caught snapping turtle is a lot healthier and environmentally sound than eating chicken grown in an industrial broiler house. That chicken is filled with antibiotics and growth hormones and arsenic derivative feed additives. Big Agribusiness doesn't want people to eat meat they raise or hunt themselves. It makes them lose money. The big boys control the regulatory agencies with huge contributions every year. When a government body raids a small-scale turtle plant, it is not about conservation or about health. It is about controlling the food supply.

Amelia Archie
Baltimore

Editor's note: Don't forget to check out the latest developments regarding Shoot. Score. Baltimore., our short-film contest, chief among them the announcement of a cash prize and a public screening for the top-tier. Click on citypaper.com/go/shortfilmcontest for the details.

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