Nueces county Texas Sea Turtles

Governor George W. Bush's
Letter to Todd Steiner,
Sea Turtles Restoration Project

August 16, 1999

Bush letter

Above is a scanned copy of the response letter Governor George W. Bush sent to Todd Steiner of the Sea Turtle Restoration Project on August 16, 1999. Here is the original scanned image which is 35Kb. The scanned image file is readable.

The text of the letter is detailed below.


State of Texas
Office of the Governor

Mr. Todd Steiner
Sea Turtle Restoration Project
Post Office Box 400
Forest Knolls, CA 94933
Dear Mr. Steiner:

Thank you for your letter about protecting Kemp's Ridley sea turtles in Texas. I appreciate your concern for these endangered animals and am proud of our efforts to protect them.

Nesting populations for the sea turtles have increased 50 percent since 1997(1)  and are expected to continue growing by 14 percent each year, (2)  thanks to state, federal and international efforts. Because of these positive indications of the turtles' renewed health in the Gulf Coast, I will not call for the creation of a marine reserve off Padre Island at this time but will continue to monitor the sea turtles' recovery.

Since the 1980s, Texas and the United States have closed waters (up to 200 miles off Padre Island) to shrimping from mid-May to mid-July, which is the sea turtles' peak nesting period, (3) and nesting on Padre Island is increasing. But although Padre Island is home to more and more sea turtles' nests, more than 99% of all nesting still occurs in Mexico(4)  near the Kemp's Ridleys' historic nesting beaches in Rancho Nuevo.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is working with federal officials to enforce the requirements that all shrimp nets be equipped with turtle excluder devices (TEDs), and Texas' game wardens have joined federal officials in patrolling federal waters and enforcing the TED requirement. (5)  The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department also has created "Operation Game Thief," which offers a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person who illegally takes or mutilates a sea turtle.(6)

Our parks and wildlife are treasures that must be conserved for everyone to enjoy.(7)  I appreciate your letting me know your views on this issue.


Post Office Box 12428 Austin, TX 78711
(512) 463-200 (Voice) (512) 475-3165 (TDD)


Bush Whacked!

This is a link to Bush Whacked! The Sea Turtles Restoration Project's response to Governor Bush's letter to them.

The above link is to an Adobe Acrobat file. You will need to have the Acrobat reader plug-in to read their file. The free plug-in is available from Adobe.

If you are unable to view the pdf document above, we have detailed the content of the letter above along with the points of dispute the Sea Turtle Restoration Project made below.

A Critical Look at Governor Bush's Recent PR Letter on Why He Won't Create the Kemp's Ridley Marine Reserve

In the letter above, George W. Bush continues to show that he has no interest in saving Texas sea turtles. Here's the real scoop on how he twists science to excuse his appalling record on protecting endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtles and to sidestep international calls to create a marine reserve along Padre Island.

  1. Wrong number. Endangered Kemp's ridley populations have not increased by 50%. Bush is counting NESTS, not sea turtle population. Each female lays up to three nests per year, and not every year! Less than 2,000 annual nesters remain of a population that once numbered at least 40,000 nesters in a single day; and must reach 10,000 nesters in one year (or about 25,000 nests per year) before the species is considered for downlisting from Endangered to Threatened.

  2. Kemp's ridleys number are slowly increasing, but future growth is unpredictable. Kemp's ridleys remain highly vulnerable to extinction in Mexico and the U.S. and need the protection of a marine reserve to enhance recovery.

  3. Wrong again. This year 71% of Kemp's ridley nests in Texas were laid BEFORE the shrimp closure. There would have been more nests if many adult turtles had not drowned in shrimp nets during March and April.

  4. In 1999, a record number of Kemp's ridley nests were laid in South Texas- laid by first-time nesters, tagged sea turtles from Mexico and returnees from the headstarting program at Padre Island. The nesting sea turtles of Mexico routinely migrate and forage along Padre Island. Is Bush saying it doesn't matter if these Mexican sea turtles die in U.S. waters? And that headstarted sea turtles should not be protected as they return home?

  5. Though we applaud this effort, why has Gov. Bush so taken 5 years to take this action? More importantly, increased enforcement has not stopped strandings and is a temporary effort. A permanent solution is needed to end the crisis in Texas... A Kemp's Ridley Marine Reserve.

  6. Last year, after a Kemp's ridley washed up dead with a gear chain wrapped around its flipper, a $35,000 reward was offered. And no one stepped forward with information. These rewards do not protect sea turtles, but a marine reserve will.

  7. National "treasures" need protection, not neglect and buck-passing. Don't let the words of a "compassionate conservative" get in the way of the truth.
Sea Turtle Restoration Project


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