(TRENTON) - The endangered bog turtle just inched closer to becoming New Jersey's State Reptile.
Legislation (A-1530) sponsored by Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker to officially designate the bog turtle as the official State Reptile of New Jersey was cleared by the Assembly on Thursday with a vote of 74-0.
"The bog turtle is a unique creature, and important to New Jersey's ecosystem," said Zwicker (D-Somerset/Mercer/Middlesex/Hunterdon). "These turtles used to be prevalent. Unfortunately, because of destruction of their habitat, they are now critically endangered. There's certainly much more we need to do to protect them and preserve their habitat, and we will. This bill is an important way to raise awareness about the species and its plight, and a commitment by our state to protect it."
Earlier this month, students and teachers from two Princeton elementary schools, Riverside and Community Park, discussed with an Assembly panel their research about the bog turtle and showed their advocacy for designating it be the State Reptile.
"We received dozens of letters written by these students, each one original and compelling," Zwicker recalled. "Even the youngest children's letters were well-supported, explaining the need for the bog turtle's protection. I was persuaded and very moved seeing how these students put their learning about science and the environment into this kind of political engagement. This process has shown children that they, too, can change their world for the better."