Environment

Two men charged with stealing more than 600 sea turtle eggs

A loggerhead sea turtle swimming in the OdySea Aquarium in Scottsdale, AZ. Sea turtles are an endangered species and the frequent target of poachers.
A loggerhead sea turtle swimming in the OdySea Aquarium in Scottsdale, AZ. Sea turtles are an endangered species and the frequent target of poachers.

Two Riviera Beach men have been arrested and charged with stealing more than 600 sea turtle eggs from a beach in St. Lucie County, the Department of Justice announced Friday.

Carl Lawrence Cobb, 60, of Riviera Beach, was reported to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission by an eyewitness on May 5, 2017. Cobb was seen removing more than 200 eggs from sea turtle nests on North Hutchinson Island, which is located a few miles north of Fort Pierce.

On May 24, law enforcement officers watched as Cobb and Raymond Saunders, 50, also of Riviera Beach, removed 469 sea turtle eggs from the same location. The two men were arrested while transporting the eggs to Palm Beach County.

Cobb was charged with two counts of transporting sea turtle eggs for the purpose of sale, which is a violation of the Lacey Act, and two counts of violating the Endangered Species Act. Sanders was charged with one count of violating the Lacey Act and one count of violating the Endangered Species Act.

If convicted, the men face up to five years in prison for each Lacey Act violation and up to twelve months in prison for each Endangered Species Act violation.

The recovered eggs were relocated by marine biologists, who hope some of them will still yield hatchlings.

According to the World Wildlife Organization, nearly all species of sea turtles are classified as endangered, hunted for their meat, eggs, shells and skin.

Rene Rodriguez: 305-376-3611, @ReneMiamiHerald

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