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FL Press: 100-lb turtle's fate in limbo

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Posted by: W von Papinešu at Thu Aug 7 11:18:08 2008  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by W von Papinešu ]  
   

PENSACOLA NEWS JOURNAL (Florida) 05 August 08 100-pound turtle's fate in limbo - Jay family debating whether to kill or keep their controversial catch (Carmen Paige)
Some people are outraged by a Jay family's capture of an estimated 100-pound alligator snapping turtle last weekend on the Escambia River and a comment that they might eventually kill it.
Richard Mast of Pensacola said he and friends believe its treatment is "totally outrageous."
"The turtle needs to be released into its natural habitat," he said.
The Wildlife Sanctuary of Northwest Florida received 10 to 15 calls Monday morning, director Dorothy Kaufmann said.
"Wildlife should not be pets," she said. "If someone is going to kill something, it's best if it's a game animal. We are not into trophy situations."
Karen Brewton of Milton offered to buy the turtle.
"I would like to set it free," she said. "It's beautiful."
Jerry Phillips, 53, and his son, Glen, 15, caught the turtle and are debating what to do with it.
"We've got him pinned up in the water in a johnboat," Jerry Phillips said. "I plan to keep this turtle alive."
Glen said he wants to build a sanctuary for the turtle but doesn't have enough money.
"I do want to keep him alive, and if I get some help, I will," he said. "But I am not going to release him or (donate) him."
Glen said he will probably end up destroying the turtle for which they have had offers to trade or sell.
"I'll kill him and eat him and take him to the taxidermy and have his whole body mounted," he said.
Glen said the turtle, which he named Goliath, is OK for now.
"He's not suffering," he said. "We're taking good care of him."
Under Florida law, residents are allowed to have one alligator snapping turtle, said Lt. Stan Kirkland, regional public information coordinator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
It is not endangered or threatened but is on the state's Species of Special Concern list.
"It is not illegal under Florida law to possess one at a time, and you can reduce it to a food item," he said. "We are not going to criticize the family for doing that."
Kirkland said the turtles cannot be sold. A fishing license is needed to capture the turtles but is not required for people under age 16, said Paul Moler, a retired biologist with the commission.
Moler said the turtles are not often seen.
"I don't consider them rare necessarily, just secretive," he said.
100-pound turtle's fate in limbo


   

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