Re: NANFA-L-- FW: turtle poachers arrested in Alabama
Wed, 27 Apr 2005 14:01:56 -0500

What bothers me most is that wildlife was exploited for profit by
individuals, to the detriment of wildlife populations. I don't see any
lies or half truths to the statements made in the story. Over 7000
turtles were caught and sold, 340 of them illegally. It may be that
the laws that allowed the 7000 to be caught are inadequate to properly
protect the resource -- that I don't know. But Alabama has determined
that laws that made the taking and selling of the 340 illegal are laws
needed to protect the resource. The state has an obligation to enforce
those laws. I don't know from the story which species are represented
by the 340 turtles -- some may have been Alligator snappers, for all I
know. In that case, even one turtle would be substantial depletion of
the population. Let's all work for resource protection, and not try to
excuse the guys who violate the laws because we don't like how the
crime was reported, and certainly not because they were legal in some
other instances.

It may be that in order to prevent this kind of crime in the future,
the state may find that it has to ban all turtle taking whatsoever.
After all, in crimes of this sort, it is often that case that the
illegally taken animals are taken by persons who hold licenses to
legally take, either other species, or the same species by different
methods. We need to think about whether that is what we want.

A few years ago a shrimper operating out of Galveston, Texas caught two
Kemp's Ridley sea turtles, members of an endangered species. He caught
the turtles while legally shrimping. Under law, he was obligated to
return the turtles unharmed to the water. Instead, he killed,
butchered, and ate the turtles. Crew members witnessed these actions,
and one crew member, a member of the shrimper's family, was offered
some of the meat to eat himself. He refused, and testified in the
shrimper's trial. The shrimper was found guilty.

He caught millions of shrimp legally, and only violated the law in
killing and eating the two turtles. Two is a lot less than millions.
Was the shrimper justified?


David L. McNeely, Ph.D., Professor of Biology
Langston University; P.O. Box 1500
Langston, OK 73050; email:
telephone: (405) 466-6025; fax: 405) 466-3307
home page

"Where are we going?" "I don't know, are we there yet?"

----- Original Message -----
Date: Wednesday, April 27, 2005 1:33 pm
Subject: Re: NANFA-L-- FW: turtle poachers arrested in Alabama

> In a message dated 4/27/05 1:51:21 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
> writes:
> > The fact that the folks illegally catching turtles also caught
> turtles
> > legally is irrelevant to the conclusion that they committed a
> crime.
> > If we want to continue the privilege we have of collecting fish
> for
> > aquaria, we need to be on the side of resource protection.
> >
> >
> Doesn't it bother you that out of 7000 turtles caught almost all
> were legal?
> Not only that but they were caught by just a few individuals. 340
> turtles?
> Peanuts compared to the legal catch, more turtle than that are
> killed on highways
> in one county. the entire article centered on how terrible the
> trafficking in
> illegal turtles was but it used the numbers of legal turtles to
> make the
> crime sound much worse than it was. the side of resource
> protection would be to
> limit the numbers of turtles a person can catch and use for any
> purpose to
> reasonable levels while enforcing laws that limit those levels not
> making
> exaggerated claims to shock people. I am all for protecting
> turtles but I won't be a
> party to lies and half truths to do so.
> Moon
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