Friday, June 20, 2008


My sister called yesterday for advice.

Here was her situation:

A co-worker who she is friendly with took the day off. She and her family were having a garage sale, her son was selling lemonade, etc., so at some point during the day, my sister stopped by to say hi.

While there, the child brought her into the house to show her the turtle they'd found on the side of the road.

My sister, an animal lover and vegetarian like me, was skeptical but followed the boy inside.

And there indeed was a gigantic snapping turtle inside a cooler with about an inch of water. The cooler was closed. There were no holes to let air in.

My sister was horrified.

And then it got worse.

Her co-worker's husband announced they were going to eat it that night.

My sister went back to work and couldn't shake what she'd just seen. She called a local conservation board, who told her it was illegal for them to keep the turtle. At this point, she called me.

Should she turn them in? Should she say something to her co-worker about how wrong this seemed?

Should she do nothing?

Ultimately, I suggested she do nothing.

But I hate that answer.

Later, my sister did call the Natural Resources District (that turtle doesn't have a voice, she decided). And they told her that, if you have a license, you can in fact trap and kill snapping turtles.

This person likely does not have a license, but the legality of it clear, she let it go.

We talked on the phone later that night and I said, "Well, if it was a cat or a dog, of course, you would have said something right away."

And almost as soon as I said it, while I knew it was true, I thought, "Wait. What? Really? Why is a turtle's life less valuable than a cat's?"

But in society, it just generally is.

It's the same reason people eat cows and pigs and chickens and turkeys every day - sometimes all three meals - without blinking an eye.

But they wouldn't eat Sadie the Cocker Spaniel or Fluffy the Maine Coon.

It's one of those realities that just is the way it is.

But I wish it wasn't.


Ashley said...

OH!!! OMG. I would've just taken the turtle out myself, looked them straight in the eye, and said, 'You stupidheads!' :) I don't think that should be legal anywhere whatsoever.

UGH!!! That just makes me so so so mad!!!!!!!!!!! :(

Anonymous said...

Well written, Veronica. =)

Believe me, Ashley, I wanted to do that more than anything.

Ashley said...


Grant said...

Sorry... gotta go to the other side of this one... guess it's just the extremely occasional hunter in me or maybe pure pragmatist... we have norms to give life meaning and in some cases make it functional or simple. one of them here (although not everywhere) is that we eat cows, turkeys, chickens, etc. but not dogs or cats and yes to even the occasional snapping turtle (although we should store them more humanely for sure, and yes I know the root of that word). time, money, energy & brainpower are precious commodities at the individual & aggregate level... if we're going to invest them, I'd argue every time for using them first to invest more in improving the human condition first so I think the right decision here was to preserve what otherwise seems to be a positive relationship... sorry, I know... that's just so homosapeincentric of me, and God Bless America that each of us has the right to our own 2 cents. you keep you're opinion that you wish it was different, and i'll keep mine that i like turtle... even if it does taste like chicken.

cheers veronica & go tigers! ;-)

ps. this does lead me to an interesting question i've been meaning to run by you... does the concept of becoming a fruitarian (sp?) appeal to you?

J Morgetron said...

Why were they keeping that turtle in a cooler ... ALIVE ... if they were going to eat it? I don't have a problem with them eating it, if they take care of it the way they should. In fact, I'd rather them eat it, then just keep it as a "pet" which would really just be a slow death for that turtle ... My husband is an ethical hunter and one of his rules is if you kill it, you eat it, it cannot go to waste, as that would be disrespectful to the animal. He gives thanks for the animal and we eat the animal. We also try to use the as much of the other parts of the animal as well. This would be no different than a turtle.

AND ... I do have just as much respect for the turtle as I do for the chicken, the cat, the dog, the cow, and all of the other animals in the world, and I wouldn't personally eat a turtle or a cat or a dog, but I try not to judge you if you do.

I probably would have taken the turtle out too, (very carefully as not to lose digits), but that is easy for me to say because I wasn't there.