Last Wednesday, Parks Enforcement Officers caught a perp luring turtles out of the lake and stuffing them into bags, officials confirmed.
Neighbors spotted five women being questioned by officers near the Park Circle toward the Parkside Avenue, writes the group W.I.L.D for Prospect Park on facebook. Officers detained one of the suspected poachers, but the others dropped the bags and fled the scene, witnesses report.
Nine bags of turtles were confiscated, stuffed with at least 25 large adult turtles, confirmed the Parks Department officials. The detained woman was issued a summons and slapped with a $1,000 fine. Officials say that they aren’t aware of any other incidents like this happening in the park before.
“This activity is not exclusive to one group of people. We have seen many other people engage in this activity as well,” writes the group. “Let’s focus on keeping the wildlife safe from all who engage in this activity all around the world.”
The last widely reported case of poaching in Prospect Park was in 2010 when parkgoers discovered a trap in the water associated with turtle catching. Park advocates also told the New York Times that nabbing turtles for food and decoration is not uncommon.
“We are incredibly grateful to park staff who came upon it as the perpetrators were bagging them,” said neighbor Mary Beth Artz. “We are so grateful for their quick response to the incident.”
If you see anyone taking wildlife, which is illegal, you can call parks enforcement at 718-437-1350 or 646-613-1200.
We reached out to the Parks Department and Prospect Park Alliance for comment and will update the story as we hear back.