CoffeeHangover

Snapping Turtle Harvesting

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Title says it all, has anyone kept a turtle before?  Apparently they can endure PCB concentrations that would kill other species so eating one out of the charles is probably out of the question, though I thought most bodies in mass were pretty badly contaminated with mercury anyways.  With a limit of 12" they can't have had time to absorb that much, could they?

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I don't know the answer to your questions. 

What I will say is, there was, maybe still is a couple of old timers who regularly harvested snappers from a pond in Ayer. The pond is famously polluted, first from a tannery and then from the US army.

I asked them about the pollution but they were unconcerned. If I recall, they said they trimmed and discarded the fat on the premise that was where the toxins collected. I think they also said they only kept a small number each year so exposure was minimal. 

 

My guess is, if you harvest from cleaner water, only kept the smallest legal sized, don't eat many and don't feed it to kids or pregnant women  you're probably OK.

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33 mins ago, Surf bomber said:

Taste the water and chances are that's what that turtle will taste like before you put every thing but the kitchen sink on it

That makes sense, I think some people keep them in clean water for a few days to flush out before they kill them.

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1 hour ago, CoffeeHangover said:

Title says it all, has anyone kept a turtle before?  Apparently they can endure PCB concentrations that would kill other species so eating one out of the charles is probably out of the question, though I thought most bodies in mass were pretty badly contaminated with mercury anyways.  With a limit of 12" they can't have had time to absorb that much, could they?

My WAG was that a 12" snapper was about a decade old. A quick google says I was way off, an 11" is about 25. They don't reach maturity until about 15. I'd pass on a MA specimen.

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I have had snapping turtle and it was great. I have not done it myself but it was at a friends house. They tend to leave it in a pool of fresh water and flush them up to a week changing the water daily if I remember correctly before slaughtering; bleeding and cleaning. The meat was fairly tender and they did shish-kabobs with all the fixings. I wouldn’t consider it a weekly meal but your not going to die trying one. Just stay away from the more known polluted waters for harvesting. 

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In the late 80s I knew a guy that caught them and sold them to a guy who owned a Chinese restaurant.  I don’t know if he served them or kept them for personal use. But I remember seeing a picture of about ten he had lined up. And the guy bought all that were brought to him.  

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I wouldn't eat a snapping turtle if I was starving to death.  You might as well eat rat poison.   They live a very long time and the waters they live in have been polluted a very long time.

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The lower Namasket is loaded with them (big snappers). It is a herring super hi-way in the spring and I think they thrive as a result. This waterway is the outflow from the water supply for two big cities so it must be pretty clean. If you wanted to eat a snapper this is a good place to start. Put in the Taunton at Summer and paddle up.

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Snapping turtles can live in almost any fresh (and even brackish) body of water, even if the water isn’t year-round, so it’s not like snappers are only located in “polluted” or toxic environments.

 

That being said, they will eat nearly everything (from reptiles/amphibians/fish/invertebrates they kill, but all manner of carrion.  Being near the top of their food chain, they also have the likelihood of bio-accumulation of toxins from their environment/habitat.

 

 

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Found a hatchling in a Home Depot parking lot and kept it as a pet for 12 years, finally let it go when the wife said enough. They will eat just about anything including birds that fly into windows, road kill, anything my neighbors cat dragged home and left on their doorstep. Natures aquatic garbage disposals. At 12+ years old Spartacus was around 10-12”  and hadn’t skipped many meals. 

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I've had canned turtle soup before and its not bad but nothing to write home about. While eating snappers is not going to kill you, they do live a long time and bioaccumulate toxins both through predation (primarily fish) and dermal absorption from the mud through the skin. Cutting away fat only does so much and while PCBs do tend to accumulate in fatty tissue, other contaminants such as Mercury are found throughout the flesh (same for fish). Flushing them with freshwater will help them taste better but not remove contaminants.

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