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Herps In The News Local or national articles where reptiles or amphibians have made it into the news media. Please cite sources.

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Old 04-28-2006, 03:20 AM   #1
Clay Davenport
Wildlife Officials Seize Hundreds Of Turtles From Home

This is really terrible in my opinion. Yes, the folks were in the wrong, they forgot to renew their permit, but it seems way overboard to just confiscate everything automatically. What about a warning and a late renewal penalty. These people were breeding legally for 25 years, it's not like they were intentionally doing something illegal.
Granted, the story apparently isn't complete yet, so there may be other factors to consider since the state isn't commenting, but right now this is just extreme as far as I'm concerned.

Armed with a search warrant, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission seizes 300 alligator snapping turtles and other property from the home of Harold and Doris Randleas.

Doris Randleas says, “They searched everything; got everything."

Early Wednesday morning, the turtle breeder says she awakened to a knock at the door by wildlife officials.

She says she knows why they're here; over a permit that she forgot to renew.

She explains, “That's what it's about---over a $100."

The alligator snapping turtle is the largest fresh water turtle in North America.

Nesting in three separate ponds, throughout their property, the Randleas have about 800 turtles registered with the state.

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission herpetologist Kelly Irwin says, “You can see that they're not like the common snapping turtle; which a lot of people mistake them for. They have a very large head which they can't re-track into the shell all the way."

Irwin says in the past, breeders like Randleas could harvest the species from the wild.

But for more than 10 years, wildlife officials have prohibited the act.

Now the only way you can do it is by breeding them on your own.

The alligator snapping turtle can live up to a hundred years and grow to a hundred pounds. Once they've bred here and laid eggs, the turtles are exported overseas to countries like Japan."

Irwin says, “They're very big into aquaria. So to buy a hatchling alligator snapping turtle is very popular for them."

And for 25 years, snapping turtles is how Randleas says she's made her money; “What are we going to live on? I have no money to pay my bills and to eat on."

Now they've been charged with possessing these turtles without the proper permit. Randleas adds, “I do not do nothing illegal."

Because of the ongoing investigation, wildlife officials can't comment but have said additional charges could be pending.

Old 04-28-2006, 10:28 AM   #2
Justin Mitcham
What makes me sick is most of the females are full of eggs now, I doubt they will get proper care,plus the stress alone they will not lay...Snappers are very delicate and will not lay if there stressed, moved etc..they don't acclimate well as adults either!!!
These guys can lay 25-100eggs each ...
THEY JUST MURDERED THOUSANDS OF BABIES...for the sake of protection..and allover $100.00 permit...
Old 04-28-2006, 11:50 AM   #3
Clay Davenport
I hadn't even considered the fact that the females are most likely gravid right now. Of course they won't get proper care, the wildlife officials are notorious in most states for having confiscated animals die long before the case is settled.
You know they aren't going to be prepared to properly house 300 adult snappers.
And yeah, all the deaths we know are going to happen just because of $100 that wasn't paid on time. It's pathetic really. Those wildlife officers most definately have better things to be concerned over.
Old 04-28-2006, 12:10 PM   #4
It is sad that wildlife officials are willing to kill so many animals just because they want to make a point over $100, a fine and a warning would have been better suited.

I found the Readles website, if anyone is interested in contacting them. I sent them an e-mail maybe they will come here and explain what happened Randleas Turtle Farm
Old 04-28-2006, 12:15 PM   #5
Bill & Amy
Does anyone have contact info for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission? Maybe we should flood them with emails.
Old 04-28-2006, 04:21 PM   #6
to bad the game and fish commision cant be charged with animal cruelty . i'm sure they dont have all those turtles properly housed . its a shame that a 100 dollar permit will cost most likely hundreds or more turtles to die un needed .
Old 04-28-2006, 07:26 PM   #7
Originally Posted by Clay Davenport
I hadn't even considered the fact that the females are most likely gravid right now. Of course they won't get proper care, the wildlife officials are notorious in most states for having confiscated animals die long before the case is settled.
You know they aren't going to be prepared to properly house 300 adult snappers.
And yeah, all the deaths we know are going to happen just because of $100 that wasn't paid on time. It's pathetic really. Those wildlife officers most definately have better things to be concerned over.
Yep. My late Friend Lloyd Lemke (RIP), had his animals confiscated one time. He sued, for several things; unlawful confiscation, no case, care of animals (some important stuff was killed while in their care). He won the case, apparently to the tune of some 6 figures.
Old 04-29-2006, 11:22 AM   #8
My wife works at the ASPCA and has worked at shelters, when the shelters cannot accommodate a large amount of animals that are dropped off to them, they will euthanize. the animals. Reptiles are last on the list to consider keeping around for adoption.

A certain shelter here will keep an aggressive dog around for weeks to try and tame it before considering to put it down, reptiles are given 3 days.
Old 05-01-2006, 12:56 AM   #9
Clay Davenport
There's another article on this from the Arkansas Democrat, but you can't access it unless you are a paying subscriber, either in print or online. The title of the article is "Turtles hauled away as 2nd farm is shut". I'll keep an eye out to see if I can get it from another source in the next few days.
In the meantime I did find this bit of info from 2003. It's a press release from the USF&W where James Randleas was convicted of violating the Lacy Act involving interstate transport of wild caught snappers.
I still hate to think of all those turtles and potential eggs in the possession of F&G, but there may just be more to it that just a $100 permit.
At this link Doris Randleas said they had to post a $27,000 bond to get out of jail. That too suggests there may be more to it than just a failure to renew a permit.
However, I'm not going to rule out the possibility that it's just the F&G zealots blowing something out of proportion.
Here's the F&W press release from 2003:

Arkansas Man Sentenced for Illegal Turtle Dealing


April 7, 2003

Christine Eustis, (404) 679-7287

Little Rock -- James Randleas of Jacksonville, AR, doing business as Randleas Turtle Farm, Inc., was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Little Rock on three counts of violating the Lacey Act. The Lacey Act is a Federal statute which makes it unlawful to transport wildlife across state lines if the wildlife was taken, sold, or possessed in violation of state law.

A cooperative investigation between the enforcement divisions of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service revealed that on two occasions Randleas purchased alligator snapping turtles from a Mississippi resident knowing that the turtles had been taken from the wild, which is a violation of Mississippi law. Evidence showed that Randleas then knowingly imported the turtles into Arkansas in violation of Arkansas law. The investigation also revealed that Randleas operated a commercial turtle business out of Jacksonville and Biscoe, AR, and offered the illegally taken turtles for sale through his turtle business.

“We work cooperatively with the States of Arkansas and Mississippi on many cases to protect native wildlife,” said Thomas M. Riley, Special Agent in Charge for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southeast Division of Law Enforcement. “Wildlife crime has a serious impact on the States’ natural resources, and we are pleased with the judge’s ruling.”

U.S. District Judge Steven M. Reasoner ordered Randleas to pay a fine of $8,000.00 and placed him on one year of active probation for the three violations. Lee Gardner of Greenwood, Mississippi was also charged in the original indictment. Gardner was sentenced to pay a fine of $3,000.00 for his part in the violation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Bill Adair.

“The Commission is committed to protecting and conserving the wildlife of Arkansas,” said Lt. Colonel John Day with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. “We hope that this sentence will discourage others who might want to profit from the illegal take and sale of this resource.”

The largest freshwater turtle in the world, alligator snapping turtles are native only to the southeastern United States. Their numbers have decreased over the years due to diminished habitat and over harvest to supply a thriving commercial market. Because of their declining numbers, many southern states have prohibited the take of this species from the wild. Adult alligator snapping turtles can grow to over 150 pounds and have been documented to live up to 80 years in captivity. The wild alligator snapping turtles involved in this investigation all weighed in excess of 100 pounds.

Old 05-01-2006, 01:08 AM   #10
hmmmm , that does put a bit of a slant on things . i still think the big losers in this are the tutrles regaurdless of who is at fault .

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