TRENTON -- Gov. Chris Christie has signed 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 the shore's busy summer months.

This undated photo provided on Friday, July 15, 2016, from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey shows a diamondback terrapin turtle on a JFK airport runway in New York. (Port Authority of New York & New Jersey via AP)

The Republican governor on Friday signed the bill into law, making it illegal to hunt or harvest diamondback terrapins.

The legislation from the Democrat-controlled Legislature came in response to a growing commercial market for terrapin meat, particularly in the Asian food market where their meat is traditionally viewed as a symbol of longevity.

Though the terrapins have not been listed as endangered or threatened in New Jersey, the state DEP considers their population to be decreasing.

Christie says the law "will help to ensure the species remains a feature of our natural landscape for generations to come."

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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