General questions regarding breeding, conservation, and assurance colonies

TeamZissou

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Now I'm curious lol. My biggest weakness lol

Ha! It was more of a general question mainly for Bill about the history of the ESA and how the different tortoise species ended up being listed on the act. I perceive the ESA as primarily benefiting US species, so I don't get why so many non-native species are listed. It doesn't make sense that something like Radiated are so heavily regulated while Burmese stars for example, which are basically gone from the wild are not--not that we need more regulation on tortoises. I was not sure if back in the 1970s (or whenever Radiated were first listed) if there was a problem of many tortoises being smuggled out of Madagascar into the US such that the lawmakers thought listing them would have a deterrent effect, though that probably gives them too much credit.
 

DigitalArtDad

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Ha! It was more of a general question mainly for Bill about the history of the ESA and how the different tortoise species ended up being listed on the act. I perceive the ESA as primarily benefiting US species, so I don't get why so many non-native species are listed. It doesn't make sense that something like Radiated are so heavily regulated while Burmese stars for example, which are basically gone from the wild are not--not that we need more regulation on tortoises. I was not sure if back in the 1970s (or whenever Radiated were first listed) if there was a problem of many tortoises being smuggled out of Madagascar into the US such that the lawmakers thought listing them would have a deterrent effect, though that probably gives them too much credit.
From my little bit of reading it seems the more regulations the less things start to make sense. My example of the snapper for example or soft shell even. It's okay to fish for them but keeping more than 5 without permits is a no no. Would this be because they're worried they would get released into the wild and hurt the environment they're released to?
 

Jan A

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From my little bit of reading it seems the more regulations the less things start to make sense. My example of the snapper for example or soft shell even. It's okay to fish for them but keeping more than 5 without permits is a no no. Would this be because they're worried they would get released into the wild and hurt the environment they're released to?
Irrationality is a trait specifically looked for & encouraged in the hiring of any local, state or federal bureaucrat candidate who will have rulemaking & implementing authority.
 

zovick

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Ha! It was more of a general question mainly for Bill about the history of the ESA and how the different tortoise species ended up being listed on the act. I perceive the ESA as primarily benefiting US species, so I don't get why so many non-native species are listed. It doesn't make sense that something like Radiated are so heavily regulated while Burmese stars for example, which are basically gone from the wild are not--not that we need more regulation on tortoises. I was not sure if back in the 1970s (or whenever Radiated were first listed) if there was a problem of many tortoises being smuggled out of Madagascar into the US such that the lawmakers thought listing them would have a deterrent effect, though that probably gives them too much credit.
Here are a few pertinent facts to answer some of your questions to the best of my knowledge.

The US Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973. There was an initial list of animals and other species were added over the years. Radiated Tortoises were on the original list. Ploughshare Tortoises were added in late 1975 or early 1976.

CITES is a worldwide organization and deals with the international trade of endangered species, and our Endangered Species Act (ESA) is a US government act which, via the USFWS and its CBW Permits, deals with sales, trades, loans, and other "commerce" of endangered species which are listed in our ESA within the US. An animal's CITES listing has nothing to do with our Endangered Species Act (ESA). The two are not related, even though many CITES I animals are on our ESA list.

Delving into that seeming anomaly years ago, I learned that for an animal to be listed on the US ESA, the country of origin of said animal must request that the US list it on our ESA and then our government lists it on our ESA list if it agrees the animal is endangered. Burma and Egypt have not done this, so Burmese Stars and Egyptian Tortoises require no CBW Permits to be sold across state lines in this country. Our membership in CITES however, prevents them from being imported legally, but once here, they can be sold within the US with no restrictions because they are not ESA listed.

To answer another question, YES, many Radiated Tortoises were being smuggled into the country in the 70's and even the 80's. After they began to be more widely bred in this country, smuggling them in became more of a risk than it was worth, so the trade in smuggled Radiateds declined.

Here is a good one for you. The USFWS has in recent years denied import permits to some US zoos for confiscated Radiated Tortoises from other countries, saying that we already have enough of them here to make up an acceptably genetically diverse population. If we already have enough here, where is the need to keep them on the ESA list?

Just an FYI here. Madagascar has a history of not taking back into the country animals which have been confiscated outside of its borders. These Radiateds in Hong Kong are languishing because they have no place to go: https://sc.mp/xsto
 

DigitalArtDad

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Here are a few pertinent facts to answer some of your questions to the best of my knowledge.

The US Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973. There was an initial list of animals and other species were added over the years. Radiated Tortoises were on the original list. Ploughshare Tortoises were added in late 1975 or early 1976.

CITES is a worldwide organization and deals with the international trade of endangered species, and our Endangered Species Act (ESA) is a US government act which, via the USFWS and its CBW Permits, deals with sales, trades, loans, and other "commerce" of endangered species which are listed in our ESA within the US. An animal's CITES listing has nothing to do with our Endangered Species Act (ESA). The two are not related, even though many CITES I animals are on our ESA list.

Delving into that seeming anomaly years ago, I learned that for an animal to be listed on the US ESA, the country of origin of said animal must request that the US list it on our ESA and then our government lists it on our ESA list if it agrees the animal is endangered. Burma and Egypt have not done this, so Burmese Stars and Egyptian Tortoises require no CBW Permits to be sold across state lines in this country. Our membership in CITES however, prevents them from being imported legally, but once here, they can be sold within the US with no restrictions because they are not ESA listed.

To answer another question, YES, many Radiated Tortoises were being smuggled into the country in the 70's and even the 80's. After they began to be more widely bred in this country, smuggling them in became more of a risk than it was worth, so the trade in smuggled Radiateds declined.

Here is a good one for you. The USFWS has in recent years denied import permits to some US zoos for confiscated Radiated Tortoises from other countries, saying that we already have enough of them here to make up an acceptably genetically diverse population. If we already have enough here, where is the need to keep them on the ESA list?

Just an FYI here. Madagascar has a history of not taking back into the country animals which have been confiscated outside of its borders. These Radiateds in Hong Kong are languishing because they have no place to go: https://sc.mp/xsto
I didn't realize the can of worms I was opening with my original question but I'm very glad I asked nonetheless.
It mentions at the end of the video that they hope to send the radiated to Europe and the states. I wonder how they plan in doing so if nobody will take them. Or why Madagascar simply doesn't take them back. I don't think anyone is about to figure out the political system in Madagascar anytime soon so I'm not going to ask for an explanation lol.
Also I guess the USFWS is comfortable with us breeding them here without the need of getting more genetic diversity but not comfortable enough removing them from ESA list as their population is still in decline in their native habitat?
I have to wonder if their is an incentive for the US to add a species to the ESA? Knowing our government I'm sure they have some way of milking the situation to their benefit..
 

zovick

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I didn't realize the can of worms I was opening with my original question but I'm very glad I asked nonetheless.
It mentions at the end of the video that they hope to send the radiated to Europe and the states. I wonder how they plan in doing so if nobody will take them. Or why Madagascar simply doesn't take them back. I don't think anyone is about to figure out the political system in Madagascar anytime soon so I'm not going to ask for an explanation lol.
Also I guess the USFWS is comfortable with us breeding them here without the need of getting more genetic diversity but not comfortable enough removing them from ESA list as their population is still in decline in their native habitat?
I have to wonder if their is an incentive for the US to add a species to the ESA? Knowing our government I'm sure they have some way of milking the situation to their benefit..
In the past Madagascar did repatriate some confiscated Radiated Tortoises, but they were extremely hesitant to do so for fear of introducing diseases (such as the mycoplasma which decimated our Desert Tortoise population when captive animals were released to the wild). The confiscated tortoises were placed in a very large preserve which was within the historical range of Radiated Tortoises but quite well removed from any of the existing population. The introduced population was doing very well the last I knew.

There was an act introduced in Congress a couple of years ago which would REMOVE all non-native species from our ESA list. The thinking is that CITES now protects the non-native species very well, and the US ESA need only concentrate on saving our own species. This would make things much easier and manageable for USFWS, and for the life of me, I don't know why they don't support this legislation, but it seems to have "died in committee". My Congressman is one member of the committee, and I have emailed him innumerable times asking him to push this thing through, all to no avail (so far).
 

DigitalArtDad

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In the past Madagascar did repatriate some confiscated Radiated Tortoises, but they were extremely hesitant to do so for fear of introducing diseases (such as the mycoplasma which decimated our Desert Tortoise population when captive animals were released to the wild). The confiscated tortoises were placed in a very large preserve which was within the historical range of Radiated Tortoises but quite well removed from any of the existing population. The introduced population was doing very well the last I knew.

There was an act introduced in Congress a couple of years ago which would REMOVE all non-native species from our ESA list. The thinking is that CITES now protects the non-native species very well, and the US ESA need only concentrate on saving our own species. This would make things much easier and manageable for USFWS, and for the life of me, I don't know why they don't support this legislation, but it seems to have "died in committee". My Congressman is one member of the committee, and I have emailed him innumerable times asking him to push this thing through, all to no avail (so far).
Sounds like most of the legislation that seemingly makes sense but dies for no reason other than "politics"
 

TeamZissou

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Here is a good one for you. The USFWS has in recent years denied import permits to some US zoos for confiscated Radiated Tortoises from other countries, saying that we already have enough of them here to make up an acceptably genetically diverse population. If we already have enough here, where is the need to keep them on the ESA list?

Just an FYI here. Madagascar has a history of not taking back into the country animals which have been confiscated outside of its borders. These Radiateds in Hong Kong are languishing because they have no place to go: https://sc.mp/xsto

Thanks for the detailed explanation Bill. I never knew how CITES animals made it onto the list (or didn't).

I do remember seeing that bill referenced while digging through old posts in the Madagascan subforum. Bummer that nothing ever happened with it.

Pretty unbelievable about denying import permits saying that we already have enough of them. I suppose USFWS couldn't unilaterally delist foreign species like it could with domestic species without redoing its agreement with whatever country.
 

zovick

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Addendum:

I did not mention this fact in the earlier posts, but when the Radiated Tortoise SSP and studbook were begun in 1984-85, it was virtually impossible for owners to get a studbook number for a Radiated Tortoise unless they had proof that it was legally imported "Pre-Act" , IE before 1973. If it was a young one claimed to have been hatched in the US, its parents' origins would need to be known and proven to the satisfaction of the studbook keeper before it could be entered into the studbook.

Thus, in years past, animals WITH studbook numbers were highly sought after because they were "legal" and it was believed they would not be confiscated by USFWS Law Enforcement as having been smuggled into the country. Today, buyers put very little, if any, extra value on studbook registered Radiated Tortoises because as more and more have been hatched over the years, the studbook keeper has been overwhelmed by the number of animals he was asked to register and has all but stopped doing registrations for anything but AZA institutions.

The same thing is true of the Burmese Star Tortoise Studbook. No private peoples' tortoises have been registered since 2010 or thereabouts to my knowledge.
 
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zovick

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Thanks for the detailed explanation Bill. I never knew how CITES animals made it onto the list (or didn't).

I do remember seeing that bill referenced while digging through old posts in the Madagascan subforum. Bummer that nothing ever happened with it.

Pretty unbelievable about denying import permits saying that we already have enough of them. I suppose USFWS couldn't unilaterally delist foreign species like it could with domestic species without redoing its agreement with whatever country.
I think that we COULD unilaterally de-list any foreign species. After all, it is the US Endangered Species Act. My belief is that we can add or take off any species we wish regardless of the other country's opinions.

That is exactly what that legislation I mentioned would do, IE take ALL non-native species OFF our ESA list.

CITES is a worldwide organization, and we could NOT de-list a species from CITES without 200 or more countries agreeing to it.
 

DigitalArtDad

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Addendum:

I did not mention this fact in the earlier posts, but when the Radiated Tortoise SSP and studbook were begun in 1984-85, it was virtually impossible for owners to get a studbook number for a Radiated Tortoise unless they had proof that it was legally imported "Pre-Act" , IE before 1973. If it was a young one claimed to have been hatched in the US, its parents' origins would need to be known and proven to the satisfaction of the studbook keeper before it could be entered into the studbook.

Thus, in years past, animals WITH studbook numbers were highly sought after because they were "legal" and could not be confiscated by USFWS Law Enforcement as having been smuggled into the country. Today, buyers put very little, if any, extra value on studbook registered Radiated Tortoises because as more and more have been hatched over the years, the studbook keeper has been overwhelmed by the number of animals he was asked to register and has all but stopped doing registrations for anything but AZA institutions.

The same thing is true of the Burmese Star Tortoise Studbook. No private peoples' tortoises have been registered since 2010 or thereabouts to my knowledge.
I feel like I should be paying you for all this information.
My biggest problem with getting my project started has been "legitimizing" my torts so when I do get to the final stages of breeding and offering them to institutions (if that ever comes to fruition, still not giving up on my goal that easily) they are more apt to work with me. This information explains why. I think this will be my biggest challenge if it's possible at all with the current regulations.
Reading over all the comments so far I think a more achievable goal might be to give these animals representation in the Midwest and work my way up from there if it's possible. Still lots of foot work, reading, and raising hatchlinga to do...
 

zovick

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I feel like I should be paying you for all this information.
My biggest problem with getting my project started has been "legitimizing" my torts so when I do get to the final stages of breeding and offering them to institutions (if that ever comes to fruition, still not giving up on my goal that easily) they are more apt to work with me. This information explains why. I think this will be my biggest challenge if it's possible at all with the current regulations.
Reading over all the comments so far I think a more achievable goal might be to give these animals representation in the Midwest and work my way up from there if it's possible. Still lots of foot work, reading, and raising hatchlinga to do...
Not trying to be a wet blanket, just pointing out facts.

Your goal is noble, however, as I have mentioned a couple of times earlier, there are no zoos of which I am aware that will accept tortoises from a private person these days. Before getting your hopes up too high, I would suggest that you test the waters by contacting a few zoos to see what they tell you. Ask for the Curator of Herpetology or the Herp Collection Manager and tell them you wish to donate/give to them your captive bred Radiated Tortoises, Egyptian Tortoises, or whatever species you think you will be able to breed, and see what you are told. Unless it is a species so rare that virtually no one can obtain it, I believe they will not be interested.

It is my experience that 99.9% of institutions will not accept the animals. Too much extra work for them with limited manpower, too much expense to feed and provide vet care, etc., etc. Post the results you get on this thread. It will be interesting to see what you learn.

Working with the animals simply for your own satisfaction is your best option, IMHO. If you should ever happen find a zoo which will work with you, that will be a bonus, but it should not be your all-consuming desire because that will make your project too disappointing.
 

DigitalArtDad

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Not trying to be a wet blanket, just pointing out facts.

Your goal is noble, however, as I have mentioned a couple of times earlier, there are no zoos of which I am aware that will accept tortoises from a private person these days. Before getting your hopes up too high, I would suggest that you test the waters by contacting a few zoos to see what they tell you. Ask for the Curator of Herpetology or the Herp Collection Manager and tell them you wish to donate/give to them your captive bred Radiated Tortoises, Egyptian Tortoises, or whatever species you think you will be able to breed, and see what you are told. Unless it is a species so rare that virtually no one can obtain it, I believe they will not be interested.

It is my experience that 99.9% of institutions will not accept the animals. Too much extra work for them with limited manpower, too much expense to feed and provide vet care, etc., etc. Post the results you get on this thread. It will be interesting to see what you learn.

Working with the animals simply for your own satisfaction is your best option, IMHO. If you should ever happen find a zoo which will work with you, that will be a bonus, but it should not be your all-consuming desire because that will make your project too disappointing.
No worries I appreciate the honesty especially from someone with as much experience as yourself, and thank you for your wisdom.
I should add that I didn't expect much from zoos in the first place and maybe put my foot in my mouth when I started this post with just mentioning them. I figured a more attainable goal would be nature centers and wildlife exhibits that I trusted and practiced good husbandry. I live close to branson and the Ozarks which have numerous places like this that use these as tourists attractions. Also small town nature centers like the one in my hometown I feel would be more likely to take them as opposed to the St. Louis or kc zoo. Again I don't expect it will be easy from any of these places just more plausible than a large zoo.
Also I've been contacting lots of reptile expos and pet stores around my area. Not sure how people on here feel about them but personally I'm starting to feel they do have a hand in the grand scheme of things when it comes to the growth of populations. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong though. Anyway none of these places so far have carried either of these species. I'm guessing it's because they don't have the paperwork required to prove they are captive bred so they aren't able to legally sell them but I could be wrong in that as well. So even if I could bring these species to an expo or local pet shop, again that has good husbandry and I trust, that would help represent them more in the Midwest.
I don't expect any of this to be easy or an overnight thing. I have a lot going on right now with finding a new job (government job I'm sorry lol) and moving my family. So right now I'm just focused on raising the few hatchlings I have, bettering my husbandry, and learning as much as possible.
As always thanks so much and I'm always open to criticism from all as thats the best way to learn.
 

zovick

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No worries I appreciate the honesty especially from someone with as much experience as yourself, and thank you for your wisdom.
I should add that I didn't expect much from zoos in the first place and maybe put my foot in my mouth when I started this post with just mentioning them. I figured a more attainable goal would be nature centers and wildlife exhibits that I trusted and practiced good husbandry. I live close to branson and the Ozarks which have numerous places like this that use these as tourists attractions. Also small town nature centers like the one in my hometown I feel would be more likely to take them as opposed to the St. Louis or kc zoo. Again I don't expect it will be easy from any of these places just more plausible than a large zoo.
Also I've been contacting lots of reptile expos and pet stores around my area. Not sure how people on here feel about them but personally I'm starting to feel they do have a hand in the grand scheme of things when it comes to the growth of populations. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong though. Anyway none of these places so far have carried either of these species. I'm guessing it's because they don't have the paperwork required to prove they are captive bred so they aren't able to legally sell them but I could be wrong in that as well. So even if I could bring these species to an expo or local pet shop, again that has good husbandry and I trust, that would help represent them more in the Midwest.
I don't expect any of this to be easy or an overnight thing. I have a lot going on right now with finding a new job (government job I'm sorry lol) and moving my family. So right now I'm just focused on raising the few hatchlings I have, bettering my husbandry, and learning as much as possible.
As always thanks so much and I'm always open to criticism from all as thats the best way to learn.
Yes, I almost said that smaller places such as nature centers and roadside attraction type spots would easier to approach and more likely to want outside specimens, but you mentioned zoos, so I (incorrectly apparently) assumed you meant the mainstream type of large institution. These smaller places are extremely unlikely to have any really rare species (unless the owners happen to be tortoise lovers) and may be happy to try working with them.

If there are any Audubon Centers near you, they might be a place to try as well, although they are more likely to want native species. We had a very large and very active National Audubon Society chapter with its own nature center in northwestern CT where I used to live, and they had a very nice collection of reptiles there. The personnel often consulted me for advice on problems they had over the years with various snakes and turtles.

Government job? For which part of the government are you now and/or will you be working? Are you in the armed forces? I was in the US Army personally, but resigned my commission in 1975 (young and dumb). Oh well..............
 

DigitalArtDad

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Thanks I'll look into Audubon centers as well, and thank you for your service!

Right now I'm currently unemployed after a failed contract renegotiation and our unions business rep selling us out and losing half the plant their jobs..

The company I've been interviewing with is called honeywell who I'm guessing is contracted by the government. I'm trying not to ask too many questions until I get hired lol. I'm not sure how much I can say as they keep it all very hush hush, but essentially it's just an inspector job I'm applying for in a factory that makes parts. Nothing as exciting as the armed forces but it pays well and I hear good things from others that work there. I've taken an online assessment, 2 interviews with 4 different people, and completed a 4 hour skill test. Now I'm just waiting to hear if they will accept me. If so I'll take a drug and homeland security background test which won't be an issue and start looking to move. After all that I can start focusing more on my tort aspirations.
 

zovick

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Thanks I'll look into Audubon centers as well, and thank you for your service!

Right now I'm currently unemployed after a failed contract renegotiation and our unions business rep selling us out and losing half the plant their jobs..

The company I've been interviewing with is called honeywell who I'm guessing is contracted by the government. I'm trying not to ask too many questions until I get hired lol. I'm not sure how much I can say as they keep it all very hush hush, but essentially it's just an inspector job I'm applying for in a factory that makes parts. Nothing as exciting as the armed forces but it pays well and I hear good things from others that work there. I've taken an online assessment, 2 interviews with 4 different people, and completed a 4 hour skill test. Now I'm just waiting to hear if they will accept me. If so I'll take a drug and homeland security background test which won't be an issue and start looking to move. After all that I can start focusing more on my tort aspirations.
Well, good luck!

Honeywell is a massive company and does have a lot of military contracts to the best of my knowledge. Where will you have to live if you get the job? TX maybe?
 

DigitalArtDad

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Well, good luck!

Honeywell is a massive company and does have a lot of military contracts to the best of my knowledge. Where will you have to live if you get the job? TX maybe?
They have a plant in Kansas City which I live about an hour away from now so it won't be a big move. I noticed TX is where a lot of radiated breeders are so that wouldn't have been bad lol. This way I'll still have access to relatively cheap property and close to family so it's not all that bad. Hopefully I'll get the call next week, I can use all the luck I can get so thank you!
 
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