Psst! Wanna Buy an Adorable (Invasive) Turtle?

An inside look at the black market for red-eared sliders.

"Eight minutes before closing time, James (who asked that I not use his last name) dashes into a New York Chinatown tchotchke shop—located on Mott Street, just below Canal—with a wad of cash. The boxes are waiting for him. A shopkeeper, a woman in her 70s, struggles to wrangle them from a back room obscured by a curtain and boxes of paper fans. He hands over $200: exact change. '100 cages, too,' he says. 'The good kind.' He counts out another $100, and the woman shuffles away to retrieve them. James starts loading the haul into his sedan, idling out front on Mott. The backseat is filling with boxes. Each contains 100 live turtles."

—From “Turtle Trafficking,” Jessica Leigh Hester’s Slate story about the illicit red-eared slider market, and how discarded and escaped paddlers are outcompeting native turtles along the East Coast


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