Having depleted their own nation’s once-plentiful turtle populations, Chinese buyers are now offering top dollar for turtles from the southern U.S. In the last three years, there’s been a dramatic upswing in the number of turtles exported to China, where the animals’ meat is considered a delicacy and their shells are ground up to make virility powders. In 2002, 23,000 turtles were extracted from the waterways of North Carolina, up from just a few thousand in 1999. So troubling is this trend that North Carolina is poised to impose a moratorium on turtle fishing. South Carolina is also considering a moratorium, and Alabama and Mississippi have put strict limits on turtle trapping. Southern populations of the slow-moving creatures don’t seem to be in danger yet, but lawmakers want to act before it’s too late.