- Associated Press - Thursday, May 26, 2016

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Lawmakers have passed a measure to protect a native New Jersey turtle known for living in salty marshes along the coast and sometimes falling victim to auto traffic during busy summer months.

The state Senate on Thursday gave final approval to a bill that would make it illegal to hunt or harvest diamondback terrapins. It now heads to Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s desk.

The legislation comes in response to a growing commercial market for terrapin meat, particularly in the Asian food market, and after an incident in 2014 that resulted in about 3,500 of the creatures being harvested.

Under current law, the terrapins may be harvested in the winter months when they’re hibernating, but the state Department of Environmental Protection ended the season early this year because of concerns over their populations.

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