The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has issued a final rule adding four native U.S. freshwater turtle species to Appendix III of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. These species include the common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina), Florida softshell turtle (Apalone ferox), smooth softshell turtle (Apalone mutica) and spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera), including live and dead whole specimens, as well as all readily recognizable parts, products and derivatives.

Appendix III includes native species regulated to prevent or restrict exploitation where a country requests the help of others to monitor and control the trade of the species. Any CITES party may add a native species to (or remove it from) Appendix III independently at any time. APHIS states that inclusion in Appendix III provides the following benefits.

- Permitting requirements are imposed to control international trade in listed species (in this case, exports from the U.S. will require an FWS permit).

- Shipments containing listed species receive greater scrutiny from border officials in both exporting and importing countries.

- Better records are kept and international trade in listed species is better monitored, which helps determine the impact of trade on the species and the effectiveness of existing management activities, regulations and cooperative efforts.

- When any live listed species is exported or imported it must be packed and shipped according to the International Air Transport Association Live Animals Regulations to reduce the risk of injury and cruel treatment, which helps to ensure the survival and health of the animals when they are shipped internationally.

This rule will be effective 180 days after May 24.

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