PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (CBS12) Two men are facing criminal charges for poaching hundreds of sea turtle eggs in St. Lucie County.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission arrested Raymond Saunders, 50, and Carl Cobbs, 60, both of Riviera Beach.
The two are accused of stealing more than 500 Loggerhead sea turtle eggs in a rural beach area of North Hutchinson Island early Wednesday morning. A tip from a nest watch volunteer led to the arrests.
Saunders and Cobb will be in court Thursday morning.
The men are facing third degree felony charges of possession of more than 11 marine turtle species/eggs and illegal taking/distribution of sea turtle eggs.
Experts reburied the eggs with the hope that they can be hatched.
Sea turtle eggs are considered a delicacy in some cultures, and can be sold for $20 – $30 per dozen.
“There is a market that goes on in this area for illegal harvest of sea turtle eggs, we speculate that may be the motivator for this kind of situation, but all of that will have to be determined as the investigation continues,” said Carol Lynn Parrish with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
While sea turtle egg poaching is not common, Parrish says it’s not unheard of.
In July 2016, FWC arrested 49 year-old Glenn Robert Shaw of Tequesta for allegedly stealing 107 eggs from a nest behind a Jupiter Island home.
These cases, Parrish said, shows the importance of the public remaining vigilant and reporting any suspicious activity.
People who suspect illegal activity or see injured wildlife can call Florida Fish and Wildlife’s 24 hour hotline at 1-888-404-3922.
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2 arrested for theft of 500 sea turtle eggs. https://t.co/JN4MoNtdmq pic.twitter.com/eWPiyMLB30
— WPEC CBS12 News (@CBS12) May 24, 2017