December 7, 2018
New State Reptile For New Jersey
- as seen by -Don Boyer
Currently 26 states have designated an official state reptile. The process is often started by school children.
On June 18, at a ceremony held at New Jersey’s Princeton’s Riverside Elementary School, Governor Phil Murphy signed state Senate bill 3145 and Assembly bill 5048 into law making the bog turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii) the state’s official reptile. The students from Princeton elementary school have been campaigning for the past two years to make this happen.
The bog turtle was listed as endangered by the state in 1974. The US Fish and Wildlife Service listed it as threatened in 1997. It is in decline throughout its range due to habitat loss, predation, and illegal poaching for the international pet trade. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) estimates there are fewer than 2,000 of the turtles (above, turtle with radio transponder) left in the state, mostly in rural areas of four counties
Bog turtles have very specific habitat needs and are very sensitive to changes to their environment. The DEP has been working to protect land around high-priority populations by restoring habitat by eliminating invasive plant species and identifying critical movement corridors.