HAYTI, MO (KFVS) - The Missouri Department of Conservation says more than 100 dead turtles were found recently in a dump site.
The Hayti Fire Department personnel reported illegal poaching activity to a conservation agent on Thursday, April 19 after finding the dump site while fighting a wildfire. The conservation agent determined the large pile of turtles included 161 red-eared sliders and two snapping turtles.
According to the agent, there appeared to be no reason for someone to kill the turtles.
This illegal poaching activity brings much concern to the Missouri Conservation Department. Conservation Agent Supervisor Russell Duckworth says, "The turtle species is an important part of the habitat and the ecosystem. so anytime there is anything like this that goes on, regardless if it's two or three or in this case, over 150, then that certainly concerns us."
A red-eared slider is a common semi-aquatic turtle in Missouri, according to the MDC, and they become active in March through mid-October. The snapping turtle is a large aquatic turtle with a big pointed head, long thick tail and small lower shell. Both turtle species help to keep the populations of many aquatic animals and plants in check.
If you have any information about this incident, you can share it anonymously through the Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-800-392-1111. Information leading to an arrest may lead to a reward of up to $1,000.
If anyone is found responsible, they could face fines and restitution for each turtle.