Funding from the Conserve Wildlife tag going to save fresh water turtles from disease

Recent spike in turtle disease, death prompted research project

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After freshwater turtle disease levels have spiked over the past two years, the nonprofit Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida announced a $30,000 grant to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) for freshwater turtle disease research.

The project will investigate the deaths of freshwater turtles in the St. Johns River watershed. Since March 2018, an unprecedented 300 sick or dead turtles have been reported to FWC. Prior to this event, only 75 undiagnosed cases of dead freshwater turtles had been reported since 2006. With a novel virus being the suspected culprit, the grant will support the development of diagnostic tools to further understand the virus and its reach in Florida.

Foundation President and CEO Andrew Walker said, “The recent deaths of freshwater turtles in the St. Johns River are alarming. We are committed to finding the cause of the outbreak, as these turtles are an important member of the St. Johns River ecosystem.”

Grant funding came from the “Conserve Wildlife” specialty license plate fund managed by Foundation. The Foundation has raised and given away more than $32 million to support conservation, fishing, hunting and outdoor education for children, adolescents and adults. The Foundation recently completed a contest with Ringling College of Art & Design to redesign the plate in the hopes of increasing sales, and thus increased grant funding. The picture below is of the contest winner and this new design will replace the previous design picture above.