Pennsylvania turtle trafficker gets 6-month sentence

A Pennsylvania man has received a six-month prison sentence for illegally trafficking diamondback terrapin turtles (Malaclemys terrapin). David Sommers, a 64-year-old man from Bucks County, just north of Philadelphia, told a federal court that he first began helping turtles hit by cars on trips to New Jersey shore by repairing cracked shells and eggs. At some point he began to sell the turtles on a reptile website, taking hatchlings from nests and keeping them in tubs in his home. He would wrap them in duct tape and stuff the turtles into socks before shipping them by mail. Terrapins are protected in the U.S. by the Lacey Act, which prohibits the trade of illegally taken wildlife. On top of the prison sentence, prosecuting and defense attorneys agreed Sommers would pay $250,000 in restitution.

Read more at The Philadelphia Inquirer.


Header Image: Diamondback terrapins are valued for the patterns on their shells. ©Chesapeake Bay Program