Danville Turtle Races Scrapped After 49 Years
By The Associated Press, with addtional reporting from Illinois Public Media
Organizers of a long-running east-central Illinois turtle race are scrapping their event because of legal concerns about the wild reptiles.
For 49 years, the Turtle Club's been holding the annual Turtle Reunion and Races to raise money for area children's charities.
But club president Mike Puhr says next year's event won't include the turtles that are collected by local mushroom hunters because holding so many of the animals violates state conservation laws.
"There is a disease which has been decimating the Box Turtle population throughout the Midwest and USA called Rana Virus, and we, the Turtle Club, as a group don’t want to contribute to that problem," said Puhr, in a press release.
Wildlife experts are worried that having so many turtles together - and then re-releasing them into the wild - could spread disease among the animals.
Saturday's races had nearly 100 turtles that competed to traverse several feet.
The races typically raise about $10,000 each year for charity.