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3 charged in illegal freshwater turtle harvests

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Posted: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 8:41 am | Updated: 9:06 am, Tue Jul 15, 2014.

LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) — State wildlife officials have charged three men in central Florida with illegally harvesting, selling and buying 2,100 pounds of freshwater turtles.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission banned the commercial harvest of all native wild turtles in 2009, citing the overharvesting of turtles as food elsewhere in the world.

Lt. George Wilson says investigators in Polk and Seminole counties caught the men poaching turtles on lakes and the St. Johns River. The turtles were transported and sold illegally to a turtle farm in Okeechobee.

The men were charged with multiple felonies and misdemeanors.

Wilson says he hopes the arrests help "ensure everyone has the opportunity to see freshwater turtles in the wild and harvest them recreationally."

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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