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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Illegal turtle trade lands Londonderry man in hot water

LONDONDERRY – Watch where you buy your next turtle.

A Londonderry man pleaded guilty in Derry district court earlier this month after admitting to the illegal possession and sale of threatened and endangered turtles. ...

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LONDONDERRY – Watch where you buy your next turtle.

A Londonderry man pleaded guilty in Derry district court earlier this month after admitting to the illegal possession and sale of threatened and endangered turtles.

The investigation even included an undercover turtle buy.

New Hampshire Fish and Game conservation officers spotted advertisements in May offering the sale of Spotted Turtles and Blanding’s Turtles, which are on the state’s threatened and endangered species lists, respectively. Officers investigated and bought a Spotted Turtle from the advertiser, Richard Decoste, and later searched his home.

Officers found another 10 Spotted Turtles and two Blanding’s Turtles in the home.

They arrested Decoste and charged him with one count each of possessing a threatened species and sale of a threatened species. Both charges are Class B misdemeanors, according to Fish and Game, which do not carry possible
jail sentences. Decoste pleaded guilty on July 11 and paid just over $1,000 in fines.

All of the animals have since been returned to their natural habitats, Fish and Game said.

Spotted Turtles are a threatened species in New Hampshire and listed on the state’s Wildlife Action Plan as a species in greatest need of conservation, according to Fish and Game’s website.

The turtles are 3-5 inches long, are found in southeastern portions of the state and recognizable by the yellow spots dotting their dark colored shells. They are often confused with Blanding’s Turtles.

Blanding’s Turtles also have yellow spots on their shells but are larger, about 7-9 inches long.

Both species live in wetlands and other shallow water bodies and use vernal pools, streams and marshes extensively in the spring to travel.

Both are also threatened by increasing destruction or fragmentation of wetlands, vehicles and increasing abundance of mid-size predators, such as raccoons, according to the Fish and Game website.

Possession of almost all wildlife is illegal without a permit in New Hampshire, as is the sale of any native wildlife, Fish and Game said.

More information about the rules pertaining to wildlife in New Hampshire can be found at the Fish and Game website,
www.wildnh.com.

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or jcote@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Cote on Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeC).