State official: Turtle protection laws adequate

State herpetologist John MacGregor says Kentucky doesn't need more laws to protect wild turtles from commercial harvesters.

He was responding to reports by the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity, Kentucky Heartwood and other groups that turtles in Kentucky and other southern and midwestern states are in danger because of rising demand for turtle meat in China.

Only snapping and soft-shell turtles may be taken by those with a commercial fishing license, and they are found in virtually every pond and stream in the state, MacGregor said Tuesday.

"I think our laws are adequate, he said.

The diversity center had said that rare alligator snapping turtles and chicken turtles can easily be mistaken for more common turtles.

MacGregor said he has looked through thousands of records, and a chicken turtle has never been found in Kentucky.