A number of turtle nests along outer Princess Street at the Westbrook wetland were destroyed and eggs illegally removed over the weekend.
And while it hasn’t been proven, some are saying the hundreds of hatchlings were poached. The incident apparently happened between 9 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. Sunday.
“What we think happened, this is definitely poaching,” said Mabyn Armstrong with Turtles Kingston, a local conservation group.
“This was done by a professional poacher, someone who knew what he was doing. We could tell by the way the nest cavities were excavated.”
Armstrong says an animal would have left some indicators behind like broken turtle egg shells. But whomever or whatever destroyed and removed hundreds of hatchlings from over 10 nests knew that they were doing.
“It’s such a precise way, almost like a surgeon did it, and I hate to be putting that out, giving him any compliments, because this is deplorable,” Armstrong said.
“This is a crime against wildlife. This is an offence; it’s a $25,000 to $100,000 fine for this.”
That is, of course, if the culprit gets caught.
Steve Marks is a herpetologist and poaching expert out of Windsor. In an email to Global News, he said poachers take turtle eggs for many reasons.
The first, Marks says, is selling to China for use in traditional Chinese medicine. The second: selling to the pet trade after they hatch either locally, or around the world through smuggling channels.
Number three: human consumption as eggs right here in Canada and elsewhere.
As for Armstrong, she truly felt bad for what happened, which was evident as she broke into tears during this interview.
“My intent was conservation and somebody took advantage of that, so I feel very violated with this,” Armstrong said. “We were so looking forward to arriving and finding them emerging and releasing hundreds.
“There were hundreds that were taken. We can’t disavow any more details than that because it’s an ongoing investigation, but there were hundreds.”
Anyone who witnessed anything to do with this incident can call the Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667) or Crime Stoppers 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or through their online reporting form at crimestoppers.ca.