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Pennsylvania Man Charged With Trafficking Over 3,500 Turtles

diamondback-terrapin-becky-gregory_usfw.jpg
Becky Gregory
/
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Native to brackish, coastal waters, diamondback terrapins are still kept as pets, though the historical trend of commercial harvest for meat has declined.

A Pennsylvania man has been indicted on charges of trafficking over 3,500 protected turtles.

U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania says David Sommers poached diamondback terrapins and their eggs from coastal marshes in New Jersey.

The turtles are protected under New Jersey law and by an international treaty.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents allegedly seized over 3,400 diamondback terrapin hatchlings from Sommers' Levittown home in October.

The indictment charges 62-year-old Sommers with smuggling turtles and submitting false records for a package shipped to Canada and four violations of the Lacey Act. The law bans trade in illegally obtained wildlife, fish and plants.

Sommers is also accused of smuggling turtles to Canada in 2014 and claiming the package contained a book.

No attorney information is available.