Chamber officials try to rescue endangered turtle races
NISSWA, Minn. -- The Chamber of Commerce is fighting to preserve a 39-year tradition in this resort town: turtle racing.
Chamber officials say legislation passed last year has endangered the crowd-drawing races that take place each Wednesday during the summer.
Marketing director Kathy Newton said turtle vendors told her they were informed by Department of Natural Resources officials that the state will no longer offer new licenses to sell or rent turtles, and that a 1986 law requires licensing for such activities.
Vendors typically provide racing turtles for somewhere between 400 and 600 tourists and area residents. Newton said every summer race day draws about 1,200 people.
Rich Baker of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Division of Ecological Services, said long-standing state laws on the sale of wildlife don't specifically prohibit turtle races.