Giant Sea Turtle Skulls Seized from South Florida Home
State officials recently raided the home of John Hazzard, 30—a Miami-Dade angler and poultry buyer—in search of a giant sea turtle skull which Hazzard allegedly offered for sale online. Officials seized two suspected turtle skulls as well as two suspected turtle shells. Officials took interest in Hazzard after Hazzard posted pictures of himself with alligators on Instagram, leading officials to fear that Hazzard may be feeding, capturing, or molesting alligators. Officials have not yet filed formal charges against Hazzard and are still reviewing items seized from the home.
Under Florida's Marine Turtle Protection Act, it is illegal to "knowingly possess, take, disturb, mutilate, destroy, cause to be destroyed, transfer, sell, offer to sell, molest, or harass any marine turtle species or hatchling, or parts thereof, or the eggs or nest of any marine turtle species [described in the act]." § 379.2431(1)(d)1, Fla. Stat. (2016). Florida law also makes it illegal to "intentionally kill, injure, possess, or capture, or attempt to kill, injure, possess, or capture, an alligator or other crocodilian, or the eggs of an alligator or other crocodilian . . . ." § 379.409(1), Fla. Stat.
For more information, see:
David Ovalle, Miami Herald, "Giant turtle skull for sale leads to South Florida police raid," May 10, 2017, http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article149585684.html