Florida Man Stole Turtle Eggs, Punishable by 5 Years in Prison

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on July 11, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Stealing babies is the worst, especially if you steal them from a turtle as she is laying the eggs. Not only is it rude and probably bad karma, but it's a felony in Florida and police do arrest poachers.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), a man was arrested over the Independence Day weekend for stealing 107 baby eggs from a female loggerhead turtle. The crime was spotted because police received earlier complaints of poaching on a beach behind a residence and set up surveillance.

Poaching Penalty

United Press International reports that the man was arrested and jailed and faces a third-degree felony charge for his baby turtle egg theft. In other words, the poacher could spend up to five years in prison if he is charged and convicted.

After police got word of a suspected poacher on the beach, they set up surveillance. The local beaches are highly regulated during the summer season, with noise and activity limited to ensure that the turtles can lay eggs in peace and that the eggs are not disturbed, as they are delicate.

"After a few days of additional patrols, officers saw a man taking eggs from a female loggerhead sea turtle as she was laying them," the FWC wrote on its Facebook page. "They immediately arrested the man, who was in possession of 107 eggs." The FWC reports that 15 of the eggs were kept for evidence and DNA testing, but the remaining 92 eggs were reburied by biologists from the commission "with the hope that they will hatch later this year."

Don't Disturb the Turtles

Given that it was the Fourth of July weekend when the turtle egg theft was announced, the Fish and Wildlife Commission reminded local residents to think of the creatures."Remember to protect wildlife this Independence Day and maintain a safe distance -- beachfront fireworks may disturb nesting shorebirds and might even cause sea turtles not to lay their eggs!"

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