Riverkeeper report: Out-of-state trappers invade rivers
Published 3:19 pm Thursday, July 9, 2015
Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 28th through the 30th on the Blackwater below Franklin. The water was very high, fast, 75 degrees and murky. Air temps ranged from 64 to 90 degrees.
The deer flies were biting, the fish not so much. No catfish at night, once again, and only a few mudgappers, a jack and a couple small bass casting.
However, I did catch a lot of trash. The river was seriously trashed from all the recent rains. As has been the case so many times over the past years, the majority of this trash once again coming out of the city of Franklins stormwater canal. It’s the same story with several basketballs, footballs and a soccer ball being collected. Also repeating a strong showing was just loads of Styrofoam cups and food containers. Finally, as the encore showing, once again a whole lot of huge Styrofoam blocks, like packing material or something. I’m talking 3-foot by 8-inch and 12-inch square-size blocks. That material is bound to be coming from some business located close to the city’s stormwater ditches. There are only a few, so looks like I’m going to have to go around showing pics to these businesses and see what I get.
Now for the headline story. For ya’ll that keep up with what I’m doing, you will remember me mentioning the turtle trappers from out of state a few weeks ago that were setting commercial traps in our rivers. Well, I found out why they are coming here. Those states like New Jersey and North Carolina no longer allow the commercial harvesting of snapping turtles. The reason is that the species reproduces so slowly that they cannot handle commercial harvesting. Well guess what, because those trappers cannot harvest in their own state, they are coming here to Virginia because the commonwealth still allows it. Now I’m not a turtle hugger for sure, but I think it’s just wrong to allow out-of-state commercial harvesting of our turtles. Virginia must either follow suit and ban that harvesting or at least only allow it for residents of the state.
The turtle population in Virginia certainly cannot handle the onslaught of both resident and out-of-state commercial turtle trapping. Also, I found a trap that the trapper from New Jersey missed when he took up his other traps. Three weeks ago. That is just criminal and really, REALLY pissed me off.
Traps abandoned like that are killing machines that perpetually kill until the trap is destroyed, which is what I did. The turtles that are originally drawn into the trap by the bait eventually starve to death and die. Then they draw in more turtles, which eventually starve and die, which then draws more turtles and on and on. And these traps do not care which species of turtles they kill — they kill every species we have in the river.
So Virginia needs to get on the ball and change that regulation. If you would like to help nudge the state into doing the right thing, write our Secretary of Natural Resources, Molly Joseph Ward, at P.O. Box 1475, Richmond VA, 23218, or email the letter to her at Natural.Resources@governor.virginia.gov
Sometimes “We The People” must step up to preserve what is in and about our two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.
JEFF TURNER is the Blackwater/Nottoway Riverkeeper. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.