DDA Warns Owners Of Red-Eared Slider Turtles About Potential Salmonella Risk

DOVER, Del. (March 16, 2021) – The Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) is warning anyone who purchased turtles, specifically the red-eared slider turtle, between August 2020 and January 2021 to take extra precautions to prevent illness.

The CDC and officials from several states are investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium linked to small turtles. As of February 20, 2021, a total of 22 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported from seven states, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut, North Carolina, Florida, and California. Eight individuals have been hospitalized, and one death has been reported from Pennsylvania. Currently, there are no confirmed cases in Delaware associated with this outbreak, but there is concern regarding the sale and distribution of red-eared slider turtles in Delaware.

Of the people interviewed by health officials, a majority reported having contact with a pet turtle, with reports of turtles with shells under 4 inches. Federal law prohibits the sale and distribution of turtles with shell lengths less than 4 inches, and this includes offering them for adoption or for free.

An exotic animal can be a live wild mammal, a hybrid of a wild mammal or a live reptile not native or generally found in Delaware. Most exotic animals are regulated in Delaware because they may pose a health or ecological threat to Delaware. Red-eared slider turtles are a non-native invasive species. They are sometimes mistaken as being native because they are so common in the wild. Since the red-eared slider is non-native, residents must obtain an exotic animal permit from the Delaware Department of Agriculture before purchasing by state law. In addition to state law, each county has regulations regarding the ownership of exotic animals.

One of the benefits of permitting exotic animals is that DDA can reach out to owners to alert them of potential health issues with their animals, such as this Salmonella outbreak. DDA asks all residents who have purchased a red-eared slider turtle in this timeframe to contact the Department to obtain a permit. More information on permitting exotic animals is online at https://agriculture.delaware.gov/poultry-animal-health/exotic-animals.

It is illegal for owners of red-eared slider turtles to release them into the wild because they are an invasive species in Delaware. Releasing non-native animals as well as any captive animal into the wild creates a risk of spreading diseases to the native population. Residents who have purchased turtles, specifically the red-eared slider turtles, and no longer want to keep their turtles can contact the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Division of Fish and Wildlife at 302-739-9912 for guidance.

Infographic with turtle tank and the words Turtles can carry germs that can contaminate tank water and make you sick. Always wash your hands after touching turtle tank water and other areas. It is normal for reptiles, including turtles, to shed the Salmonella bacteria. It does not mean that the animal is sick; however, people who own or come in contact with turtles should take steps to stay healthy around their pet:

• Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching pets and other animals, cleaning, caring for the animal, or cleaning its habitat.
• Don’t put your hands in your mouth after petting or playing with animals. Keep other items that have come into contact with animals out of your mouth.
• Don’t kiss cats, dogs, chickens, turtles, lizards, or other pets or animals.
• Don’t let children younger than age 5, people with weakened immune systems, or older adults touch high-risk animals (like turtles, frogs, chickens, or ducks) or their belongings or habitats.
• Don’t eat or drink around high-risk animals or in areas where they live and roam. Don’t let turtles roam freely in areas where food is prepared or stored, such as kitchens.
• Clean your pet’s bed, cage, terrarium, or aquarium and its contents (such as food and water bowls) outdoors. If you must clean your pet’s habitat indoors, use a bathtub or large sink that can be cleaned and disinfected. Avoid using a kitchen sink, if possible.
• Take your pet to the veterinarian regularly. By keeping your pet healthy, you also help to keep yourself and your family healthy.

Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps six hours to six days after being exposed to the bacteria. The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most people recover without treatment. In some people, the illness may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Children younger than five years, adults 65 years and older, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness.

Call your health care provider right away if you are exhibiting severe Salmonella symptoms. These symptoms can include: diarrhea and a fever higher than 102°F, diarrhea for more than three days that is not improving, bloody diarrhea, so much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down, and signs of dehydration, such as not urinating (peeing) much, dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up.
For more information regarding the outbreak, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/typhimurium-02-21/details.html.


Delaware surf-fishing permits are sold out after reaching annual cap

Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced today it has reached its cap of 17,000 Delaware surf-fishing permits issued for the calendar year. With the cap figure attained, no more surf tag permits will be issued until December.

In 2019, the Delaware’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Council established a 17,000 cap on annual surf-fishing permit sales. The Division of Parks and Recreation implemented a first-come, first-served cap on the number of permits issued as the most equitable way to serve all beach users, and to manage a limited resource, while also protecting against overcrowding of parks beaches. This plan aligns with DNREC’s priority to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all visitors to Delaware’s state parks system.

While surf fishing permit sales have ended for 2020, novice surf anglers are encouraged to view the “Surf Fishing at Delaware State Parks” informational video that explains surf-fishing rules and regulations in Delaware, what equipment is needed, how to drive on the beach and what to do if a vehicle gets stuck in the sand. There are no current restrictions for non-vehicle, walk-on fishing for those with a valid Division of Fish and Wildlife fishing license. Walk-on surf anglers should only use pedestrian foot traffic access points to access surf-fishing beaches and should use caution near drive-on access points.

Surf-fishing permits also serve as a Delaware State Parks Annual Pass that provides access to all 17 state parks. Park user fees, including surf-fishing permit fees, provide 65% of the Division of Parks and Recreation’s funding, and are used to operate and maintain the parks.

To learn more about fishing in Delaware State Parks, visit destateparks.com/Adventures/Fishing.

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Shauna McVey, shauna.mcvey@delaware.gov, Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov


DNREC’S Division of Parks & Recreation announces sale of 2020 annual passes and surf fishing permits on Dec. 6

DOVER – DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation announced today that the sale of 2020 annual passes and surf fishing permits will begin on Friday Dec. 6.

Revenue generated from park entrance fees is used to manage 17 state parks and more than 26,000 acres of state park lands. Delaware’s state parks are primarily self-funded, with 65 percent of revenue to operate and maintain the parks generated by park users. The revenue is used for trail maintenance, environmental and recreational programs, visitor amenities, guarded beaches, management of campgrounds, cabins, and more.

Annual passes are a convenient way to access the parks for the entire fee season. A Delaware resident annual pass costs $35, and Delaware residents 62 and older will receive a discounted rate of $18. A $65 lifetime pass is available for Delawareans 65 and older. Reduced rates are also offered to Delawareans who receive public assistance, or who are active duty military or veterans. Active duty military personnel with an out-of-state license plate can purchase an annual pass at the in-state rate.

The purchase of a surf fishing permit enables individuals to drive onto the beach for fishing. The permit provides a license plate and a decal. The decal also enables the vehicle to gain entrance into the other state parks charging a daily entrance fee. An annual surf fishing permit fee for Delaware residents is $90, while out-of-state residents is $180. Delaware residents 62 and older will receive a discounted rate of $80.

In 2019 the Delaware’s Parks & Recreation Advisory Council, an 11-member board appointed by the Governor that advises DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation, voted to limit the number of permits issued annually to no more than 17,000. Surf fishing permits are issued on a first-come, first-served basis. The cap on the number of permits issued is the most equitable way to serve all beach users, to manage a limited resource, and to protect against overcrowding of parks beaches. The Division also has found that limiting the number of permits enables more efficient management of the state’s surf-fishing program. This plan also aligns with DNREC’s priority to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all visitors to Delaware’s award-winning state parks system.

In addition, the Division offers a corporate and group pass program to businesses, nonprofits and other groups for discounted annual passes for their employees.

Annual passes and surf fishing permits may be purchased online, at park offices, at DNREC’s main office in the Richardson & Robbins building at 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19901, and at five retail sales locations.

For more information or to make an online purchase, visit www.destateparks.com/Know/PassesTagsFees.

Media Contact: Greg Abbott or Jennifer Pase, DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation, 302-739-9220

Emergency quarantine declared for pest threatening Delaware

Photos are available for media use on Flickr.

Dover, Del. – The Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) announced today that they are quarantining eleven zip codes in New Castle County to eradicate, control, and prevent the spread of spotted lanternfly in Delaware and to surrounding states.

The spotted lanternfly is a destructive invasive plant hopper that attacks many hosts including trees, shrubs, orchards, grapes, and hops. The insect is detrimental to Delaware’s agricultural industry, forests, and residential areas. Due to quarantines in other states, interstate commerce will be impacted if the pest is transported out of the Delaware quarantine area.

“We understand this quarantine will impact businesses and homeowners; however, it is required if we have any chance to control this non-native, destructive pest. With the hatching of egg masses and the presence of adult lanternflies, the population has grown and requires treatment and control efforts,” said Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse. “The impact of this pest to Delaware is large with 8 billion dollars of Delaware’s economic activity related to agriculture. When you look at our orchards and vineyards, nursery and landscaping industry, and forestland and timber sales, you are looking at more than 1.9 billion dollars alone. Delaware has a lot to lose if we do not gain control over the spotted lanternfly.”

Map of the Delaware spotted lanternfly quarantine.

The following zip codes in New Castle County have been quarantined in their entirety: 19702, 19703, 19707, 19711, 19801, 19802, 19803, 19805, 19807, 19809, and 19810. The quarantine can expand if there is reason to believe that the pest has moved to a non-quarantined area. A quarantine means that any material or object that could harbor the pest cannot be moved without taking precautions to prevent the spread.

The female spotted lanternfly lays egg masses of 30 to 50 eggs wherever it chooses, especially on flat surfaces. All other life stages of this insect from nymphs to adults can fly, hop, or drop onto a vehicle – meaning that this pest can easily be transported to new areas where it can create another infestation.

Examples of regulated articles include:

  • Any living life stage of the spotted lanternfly
  • Landscaping, remodeling, or construction materials
  • Firewood of any species
  • Packing materials (e.g. wood crates, boxes)
  • All plants and plant parts including all live and dead trees, perennial and annual plants, and mulch
  • Outdoor household articles like RVs, lawnmowers, chairs, grills, tarps, tile, stone, deckboards, and other vehicles not stored indoors.

In order to move regulated items, the general public will need to complete a residential compliance checklist indicating that you inspected and know that no living life stage of the spotted lanternfly is present on the articles. The checklist is available online at https://de.gov/hitchhikerbug.

A spotted lanternfly egg mass on a tree this fall.

“We have the advantage right now that spotted lanternfly nymphs will not hatch until April and May. We are asking residents to go to our website and download a copy of the compliance checklist,” said DDA Plant Industries Administrator Jessica Inhof. “Then take the time to check all the items you have on the list for egg masses. If you find them, scrape them off into a bag filled with alcohol or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and crush them to destroy the eggs. You will help Delaware to reduce the potential damage that these pests could inflict this spring and summer.”

Any person conducting business for a commercial business, municipalities, or a government agency that requires movement of any regulated item within or from the quarantine area must have a permit, available through the DDA spotted lanternfly website. To obtain a permit, a designated individual from an organization must receive training and pass an online test to demonstrate a working knowledge and understanding of the pest and quarantine requirements. Training of other employees, inspection of vehicle and products, and removal of living stages of spotted lanternfly must be completed. The permit demonstrates the individual understands how to identify the pest and can ensure the items transported are not carrying the insect.

For more detailed information regarding the emergency quarantine, permitting, treatment, or to report a sighting of spotted lanternfly, visit the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s dedicated spotted lanternfly webpage at https://de.gov/hitchhikerbug or call the dedicated spotted lanternfly hotline at (302) 698-4632. When leaving a message, leave your contact information and, if reporting a sighting, please provide the location of the sighting.

The initial Delaware detection of spotted lanternfly was in Wilmington in the fall of 2017. In 2018, DDA Plant Industries inspectors along with USDA staff conducted surveys around the area where the initial detection was found. The surveys demonstrated that spotted lanternfly had multiple established populations in northern New Castle County.


Media Contact: Stacey Hofmann, (302) 698-4542, Stacey.Hofmann@delaware.gov

DNREC Secretary O’Mara suspends permit for Mike Davidson Enterprises, LLC resource recovery facility

DOVER (May 2, 2013) – DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara has suspended a permit for Mike Davidson Enterprises, LLC that allowed the resource recovery facility to accept, process, and recycle construction and demolition waste. The suspension was handed down via Secretary’s Order after the company failed to address repeated environmental violations and after Mike Davidson Enterprises, LLC discounted a cease and desist order issued by DNREC. The Secretary’s Order prohibits the facility, located west of Camden in Kent County, from accepting any solid waste including recyclable materials and requires Mike Davidson Enterprises, LLC to take steps to protect public health and the environment.

The suspension of the permit is in effect until Mike Davidson Enterprises, LLC demonstrates to DNREC’s Solid & Hazardous Waste Management Section that it is capable of operating the resource recovery facility lawfully and in compliance with the permit and with Delaware’s Regulations Governing Solid Waste (DRGSW) 7 DE Admin. Code 1301.

Mike Davidson Enterprises, LLC, was cited for 22 violations many of which were ongoing while the company continued in operation. Violations included:

  • Managing solid waste outside of allowed areas;
  • Failure to operate the facility in a manner that precludes degradation of land, air, surface water or groundwater;
  • Failure to operate the facility consistent with the approved plan of operation;
  • Failure to process construction and demolition (C&D) waste within 72 hours;
  • Storage of recyclable materials in unapproved areas;
  • Failure to dispose of non-recyclable waste materials within 72 hours;
  • Failure to timely submit complete annual reports to DNREC;
  • Failure to properly update the closure plan to be submitted annually;
  • Failure to operate the facility only during approved hours of operation;
  • Failure of the weigh master to inspect all incoming loads of C&D waste as per the approved plan of operation and the permit;
  • Failure to transfer sorted C&D waste to roll-off containers;
  • Failure to place incoming C&D waste on concrete pad for sorting and inspection;
  • Failure to send non-recyclable waste for proper disposal within 72 hours of roll-off containers becoming full;
  • Failure to use covered roll-off containers for storage of sorted wallboard;
  • Failure to maintain proper size of wood mulch piles as per the permit;
  • Failure to limit total waste at the facility at any one time to 2,400 tons as per the permit and the approved plan of operation;
  • Failure to maintain proper fire protection service as per the permit;
  • Failure to file complete quarterly reports on time;
  • Failure to follow proper procedures for testing wood mulch product as required by the permit;
  • Failure to prevent acceptance of prohibited waste;
  • Failure to maintain proper records of testing;
  • Failure to maintain proper records of personnel training, major equipment maintenance, and fire department inspections; and
  • Failure to obtain approval of recycling waste other than C&D waste.

DNREC, according to the order from Sec. O’Mara, “finds that the suspension of the Permit is supported as the proper remedy for (Mike Davidson Enterprises, LLC)’s continuing and flagrant non-compliance with the permit and Delaware’s Regulations Governing Solid Waste.” The order also noted that “(i)n sum, the nature and extent of the violations show that Mike Davidson Enterprises, LLC has operated the facility since the very beginning of its regulated history with a wholesale disregard for DNREC’s regulations and the company’s permit.”

DNREC has given Mike Davidson Enterprises, LLC three months “as a reasonable time frame…to make the necessary changes to the facility in order to have the Solid & Hazardous Waste Management Section lift the suspension upon full compliance.” DNREC retains regulatory authority, including amending the permit, seeking monetary penalties of up to $10,000 for each day MDE does not comply with the permit or Delaware’s Regulations Governing Solid Waste, pursuing designation of the facility as a “chronic violator” and granting an extension in the three-month compliance schedule for showing good cause.

The Secretary’s Order suspending MDE’s permit can be found at http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/Info/Pages/SecOrders_Enforcement.aspx   

Contact: Michael Globetti, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 43, No. 176