Louisiana Man Charged With Illegally Trading Box Turtles

June 20, 2018

A man from Bayonne, NJ has been charged with four counts of violating the Lacey Act for apparently trading or selling box turtles (Terrapene carolina) from Louisiana. 

eastern box turtle

Lisa Holder/Shutterstock

Terrapene carolina is a protected species in Louisiana.

According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Louisiana, Robert Glenn Hennessy, 65,  had knowingly “import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, and purchase in interstate commerce Louisiana box turtles having a value in excess of $350.00 knowing that the turtles were taken, possessed, transported, and sold in violation of and in a manner unlawful under Louisiana law.” The alleged violations are said to have occurred between March 2016 and June 2017 in Louisiana’s Terrebonne Parish. 

The attorney’s office didn’t specify what part of the Lacey Act that Hennessy is alleged to have broken, but it did say that Louisiana law requires that anyone, be it an individual or business, selling native reptiles or amphibians collected in the state must have in their possession a license to do so. 

The common box turtle, however, is completely protected in the state and it is against the law to take the turtles, their eggs or body parts and sell them. 

Eastern Box Turtle Care Sheet

Ornate Box Turtle Care Sheet

If convicted, Hennessy faces fines of up to $250,000, the forfeiture of any vessels, vehicles, aircraft that were used in the alleged commission of the crimes, as well as up to five years in prison. 

Box turtles are widely captive-bred. There are 14 North American species and 12 Asian species. Some of the popular box turtles kept as pets include the eastern box turtle, three-toed box turtle, and the ornate box turtle. Always insist on captive-bred specimens as they will already be accustomed to life in captivity and are generally much healthier than wild-caught specimens. 

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