Really? Turtle legislation?

Baby turtles. That’s right, you read correctly, baby turtles. That’s what the United States Congress legislated over last week. They passed a bill that would reverse the ban on the sale of baby turtles in the U.S.

Baby turtles. That’s right, you read correctly, baby turtles. That’s what the United States Congress legislated over last week. They passed a bill that would reverse the ban on the sale of baby turtles in the U.S.

In 1975, at the peak of the baby turtle craze, Congress passed a bill banning the sale of turtles fewer than four inches in length due to health concerns. These small turtles were ideal pets for young children but unfortunately were often carriers of salmonella. After thousands of cases of intestinal illness and several deaths related to the young turtles, Congress acted with a bill to remove the risk.

“But what does this have to do with me, a college student here in Portland, Oregon?” you may be asking yourself about baby turtle sale legislation. It is indeed a fair question. Don’t be so quick to judge, my friend. Follow me down the path, won’t you?

Many feel that baby turtles make for great first pets. They require little attention to survive and can live in a small plastic bowl. The way turtle farmers breed and raise turtles has changed drastically in the last 30 years. The updated process brings the salmonella infection rate among baby turtles from 30 percent to less than one percent. Many argue that it is discriminatory to have continued ban on the sales of baby turtles, especially since other amphibians can also carry salmonella and are still available for sale. According to an article on the Humane Society of the United States’ website, “[r]eptile and amphibian contacts are estimated to account for 74,000 (six percent) of all Salmonella infections reported annually in the United States.”

In 2005, the 109th Congress passed the Energy Act of 2005, which, among other things, affected the start and end of daylight savings time. One of the reasons for changing daylight savings time dates was to allow children to go trick-or-treating while it is still light out.

Now, admittedly, these legislations are cute. Who doesn’t like to see children enjoying their first pet, especially a cute little turtle, or trick-or-treating more safely in the daylight? But aren’t there better ways for our Congress to spend its time rather than legislating baby turtle sales?

No, there is nothing more that Congress could be doing. Children are our greatest resource, aren’t they? So why not spend time legislating for their benefit. They should raise the minimum average miles per gallon requirements for all cars sold in the U.S. by 15 percent by 2020. That would help our children, too. Or make sure schools are adequately funded–that just may help children.

This isn’t a do-nothing Congress; that much is clear. But with threats of a vote of no confidence against Alberto Gonzales, which would effectively do nothing, they’re at least making it up to us with cute baby turtle legislation. It sort of makes you wonder what else they could be doing.

But why are we selling these baby turtles when we could be using them for so many other fantastic purposes? First of all, anti-terrorism turtles would be a great use. Maybe replace our troops in Iraq with these turtles. Along those same lines, we could have search and rescue turtles for aquatic missions. Maybe turtles could save the brave fishermen who fall overboard in the Bering Sea. While they’re out there on these Alaskan fishing boats the turtles can serve as pets and best friends to the lonely fishermen.

There are so many good uses for these turtles other than selling them and potentially infecting our children with salmonella. Did you know that turtles are the only animals other than humans who cry tears? Why don’t film studios have all-turtle testing audiences for Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan film screenings? Can’t you imagine an entire room full of turtles crying when Tom breaks Meg’s heart for the seventh time? Sheer brilliance.

There is going to be a big market for baby turtle sales. So if you’re a financially struggling college student, then why don’t you just buy up a shipment of baby turtles and sell them to local families?

Health care and public school funding, these are just two things that are debatable. But day-lit Halloween celebrations and baby turtle pets for kids are no-brainers. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Why should Congress re-ban automatic weapons? Clearly more Americans are suffering from an unfair ban of small turtle sales than citizens and law enforcement agencies are suffering from legalized automatic weapons.

Who benefits from this legislation other than turtle farmers and pet stores? Why would Congress spend their time on this? If we’re going to go with frivolous legislation, isn’t there a vote of no confidence they could impose upon Alberto Gonzales? That may appear at least a bit more productive.

Clearly this is just one of the slam-dunk, feel-good legislations that most everyone, on both sides of the isle, can agree on. The Louisianan economy may get a boost, and kids will have one more choice of which first pet they’d like to watch die in front of their eyes.