FLORIDA –– Thirty-four native Florida turtles reportedly poached by a suspected wildlife trafficker have been rescued, rehabbed, and released back into the wild, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has announced.
“Poaching is a serious threat to our native species, so when our Division of Law Enforcement partnered with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to investigate and bring charges against a wildlife trafficker, it’s a win for 34 native turtles!” the FWC said in its statement.
The suspected illegally collected turtles included musk turtles, mud turtles, and striped mud turtles. The turtles were destined for overseas markets, the FWC said.
According to the FWC, poaching rings illegally collect these turtles from the wild, often with the intent of selling them overseas.
After preliminary exams, the 34 rescued turtles were held as evidence and then transferred to a rehab facility to ensure they were healthy enough for release.
Each turtle underwent a rigorous health assessment, was screened for diseases and monitored to ensure they could survive on their own, the FWC said.
From there, FWC staff and partners safely returned them to the wild.
If you suspect that someone is illegally collecting turtles or other wildlife, call the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or visit MyFWC.com/WildlifeAlert.