A Florida man has been arrested for poaching more than 100 sea turtle eggs on Jupiter Island in Florida, stealing the eggs as they were hatched late at night. Local officials say poaching of sea turtle eggs harms the natural environment and hope the arrest will help protect the island's wildlife.
Glenn Robert Shaw was arrested Friday after the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission increased patrols after receiving reports of poaching, the Palm Beach Post reported.
"Protecting Florida's natural resources is something we take seriously and we're thankful that this individual was prevented from doing further harm to this imperiled species," FWC Captain Jeff Ardelean said in a statement, as the Post reported.
Mr. Shaw had 107 eggs when he was arrested. The FWC reburied 92 of the eggs and kept 15 as evidence. He now faces up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine, according to the Palm Beach Post.
Human activities have had a large impact on sea turtles, as "nearly all" of the seven species of sea turtles are endangered, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
"They outlived the dinosaurs and are in danger of disappearing from habitat destruction, the cruel pet trade, and live food markets worldwide," Susan Tellem, founder of World Turtle Day, told The Christian Science Monitor last month.
Roads have split up traditional sea turtle habitats, and many sea turtles are killed trying to cross roads. As humans have pushed further into their habitats, their presence often boosts numbers of traditional turtle egg hunters, as well, such as foxes and raccoons, as the Monitor reported. Other factors also threaten sea turtles, including marine pollution, global warming, and being unintentionally caught by fisherman.
Sea turtles and their eggs are considered a food source, especially in Central America and Asia, according to the Sea Turtle Conservancy. Poachers often find nesting females and wait for the turtle to lay its eggs before killing the turtle and taking the eggs.
Six species of sea turtles are found in the United States, all of which are listed under the Endangered Species Act as threatened or endangered, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Scientists say everyone can take steps to help protect sea turtles, including buying seafood sourced from fisheries that use Turtle Excluder Devices, using reusable bags, and petitioning lawmakers to strengthen laws that prohibit poaching.
"These actions really can make a difference," Becca Gelwicks of the Sea Turtle Conservancy told the Monitor last month, "even if you're living in landlocked parts of the United States or Europe."