2 Florida Men Arrested for Poaching 4,000 Florida Turtles

A search warrant found the two men had hundreds of turtles in their possession. Photo courtesy of FWC/Flickr

Alexis Incandela, Reporter

On October 19th, two Florida men were arrested for illegally poaching and selling 4,000 Florida-native turtles. They allegedly sold $200,000 worth of turtles through the black market for up to $300 each. The turtles were sold in Florida and may have been shipped to international buyers. According to authorities, it was a massive money-making operation and was the largest seizure of turtles in recent history. An undercover investigation was launched after authorities were informed of the trafficking operation in February of 2018. Over a six-month period, numerous Florida box turtles, striped mud turtles, Gulf Coast spiny softshell turtles, and diamondback terrapins were sold.

With so many of the turtles removed from their habitats, the effects on the food chain and the ecosystem will be hard to reverse in certain areas. Moving a native species to a new area risks endangering the species. They are not accustomed to the new environment and the ecosystem they left behind is unbalanced. As of now, we are in the midst of threatening environmental conditions, and this only proves that without taking the right precautions, future generations are at risk. Cases like this should be taken more seriously. The adverse effects could last for generations and do irreparable harm to the species and environment.

Currently, much of our wildlife is on the brink of extinction because of poachers. This is not acceptable and should not be taken lightly. Over half the population of many species has been killed off by humans. More funding needs to go to wildlife foundations that help reduce human impact on the environment. It seems no attention is given to these matters until it starts to directly impact a particular area.  If we don’t impose stricter laws and regulations in the near future, it is likely some of these beautiful species will fall prey to extinction, which is incredibly unfair to the animals, as well as to future generations and the health and balance of our planet.  Hopefully, public education will alert people to the potential impact before entire species are destroyed and there is nothing left to save.