Two Florida men are facing charges that they stole 93 protected turtle eggs and were going to sell them. The men face three felony charges under the Endangered Species Act. Each count has a maximum of five years, so the men are facing a 15-year prison sentence.
Carl Lawrence Cobb (63) and Bruce Wayne Bivins (63) stand accused of poaching the turtle eggs. According to the complaint, Cobb dropped off Bivins at Singer Island Beach. Bivins discovered a turtle nest and removed 93 eggs. Afterward, he called Cobb to come to pick him up. Officers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation reported seeing Bivins take the eggs. They pulled over Cobb’s truck with the eggs inside of it. The eggs were recovered and then relocated by biologists.
Understanding the Charges
Poaching laws are enforced at both the state and federal levels. These men will be facing charges in Florida based on Florida statutes. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission files charges in state cases.
Chapter 68 in the Florida Administrative Code (FAC) prohibits the taking, transporting, storing, purchasing, selling, or storing any wildlife. This includes their nests and their eggs.
The Endangered and Threatened Species Act sets the scope for these investigations and includes funding for maintaining Florida’s natural habitat.
Why are People Stealing Turtle Eggs?
As strange as it may sound, there is a black market for turtle eggs. Poachers can get about $20 – $30 per dozen because there are some folks who consider the eggs a delicacy.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, there are one or two people arrested annually for poaching eggs. However, this is a violation of both Florida law and federal law. Around 42 cases of poaching have been prosecuted in Florida since 1980. But Florida Fish and Wildlife officers say they are fighting a losing battle. By the time they catch anyone poacher, that poacher may have stolen thousands of eggs.
In 1970, sea turtles were added to the endangered species list. Individuals from Latin or Caribbean cultures consider the eggs a delicacy. In the 50s and 60s, turtle egg poaching was perfectly legal and families would scour beaches looking for these eggs. When the sea turtle was added to the endangered species list, that activity became a crime.
Hiring out Poachers
Since it is now illegal to poach eggs in Florida, egg dealers hire out diggers to go to the beach and get them. These diggers, much like street-level drug dealers, take all the risk and get very little of the reward. Worse still, when law enforcement catches and prosecutes them, they are easily replaced by someone else desperate enough to do the work.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
If you’ve been charged with a crime, then you need a skilled defense firm that has the experience to remedy the situation. Call the West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at The Skier Law Firm, P.A. today to learn more about how we can help.