Important info for turtle lovers

from the Ssafe Haven Facebook Group:  
Please share this information with reptile/amphibian owners in your area.

Hello everyone.
On August 17, 2011, four armed Conservation Officers from the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources seized a Red-Eared Slider turtle from the home of one of our approved adopters, citing that she was “beingkept in captivity without a permit or license, contrary to S6(1) General Wildlife Regulations”:
Upon inquiry, we were told that DNR had advised the turtle’s owner that “they haven’t really enforced this law before but they are now cracking down on it”. Since our native turtle populations are decreasing, DNR has been concerned with invasive species of turtles impacting our native wildlife. They stated that turtles can carry disease and when he became tired of the turtle he could release it outside. The owner asked how he could obtain a captive wildlife permit and was told that he could apply but would likely be denied, as they are no longer providing permits for turtles and tortoises. The owner explained that his pet was adopted through Ssafe Haven Society for Reptiles and Amphibians, but despite all efforts the turtle was permanently removed from his home. She is currently residing at an undisclosed location and there are no plans for euthanasia.
The turtle was most likely discovered by DNR when the owner had placed an ad on Kijiji to sell an aquarium. They posed as potential buyers who were looking into getting a painted turtle (a species native to Nova Scotia and illegal to keep in captivity) in order to obtain his address and contact information.
After learning of the seizure, we have since been advised by the Department of Natural Resources that it is now illegal to buy, sell orown turtles and tortoises in Nova Scotia. Unfortunately, this means that Ssafe Haven Society can no longer accept any turtles or tortoises for fostering, rehabilitation or adoption.
Throughout our years of operation, we have performed hundreds of RES turtle adoptions with the understanding that they are legal to own, but not allowed to be sold. We have consulted with the provincial authorities on numerous occasions and they have always been well aware that we perform RES turtle adoptions, especially since some of the DNR staff are on my electronic distribution list and receive regular announcements for our reptilian adoptees. Our contract ensures that the successful adopter must meet very stringent criteria, including the return of the animal to our Society if for unforeseen circumstances the new owner can no longer care for the animal, thereby preventing our adoptees from being released into the wild. DNR did not inform us that they had planned to enforce these outdated rules nor did they advise us to cease adopting turtles despite having many opportunities to do so.
The list of species that can be kept in Nova Scotia without a captive wildlife permit is available online at Unfortunately, it is outdated by more than 25 years and requires significant revisions. While it does not include such commonly owned species as Bearded Dragons and Chinese Water Dragons, we were assured that those species will be added when the list of permitted species is updated and that owners do not require a captive wildlife permit. The regulations also state that reptiles commonly purchased in pet stores that are not on the permit exclusion list do not likely need a permit, but it is your responsibility to check with the Department of Natural Resources before your purchase. We will request that a grandfather clause be implemented to protect the hundreds of pets that are affected by this law. Unfortunately, until then your pets remain at risk and applying for a permit could result in seizure and significant fines.
We will keep you informed of any new developments. For more information on the bylaws regarding captive wildlife, please contact the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources, Bert Vissers at or Bob Petrie at
Best regards,
Denise McKay
Chair / Adoption and Rescue Coordinator
Ssafe Haven Society for Reptiles and Amphibians
For my money, we are very lucky here in Nova Scotia to have such a reputable reptile and amphibian rescue such as Ssafe Haven.   It is run by a dedicated group of volunteers with an actual pair of herpetologists at the core.
Even better, their petfinder page is a model of creative and informative inspiration that is, imho, unequalled in this province.  And before the keyboards catch on fire, I know that other groups have embedded their own lovely web pages in their pet finder locations … which is separate and apart from having a stand alone page.  
Best of all of course is that these folks take public education very seriously and their Halifax Reptile Expo is now an annual event that is well worth attending for anyone interested in reptiles and amphibians 🙂 
At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, there really is somebody for everyone to adopt in this province, eh?
What time is it?   It is time to share this updated note from Ssafe Haven for the benefit of any turtle lovers who might not be on their facebook group!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s