Turtle nest vandals could face heavy fines, jail time

The words Glenn Wiseman can offer up are few, but powerful.

"It just makes you sick. It is just unspeakable," he said.

Since Sunday morning, Wiseman and others are asking why two people would purposely target and run over sea turtle nests up and down Anna Maria Island.

"There are no words to describe it because we put hours and hours into protecting these birds and these turtles," he said.

Witnesses told Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach police that a man and woman, in their late teens to early 20s, were on a golf cart or four-wheeler when they came out onto the beach.

They would soon drive on a path of destruction.

"Every time they would hit them they would laugh and jump up and down and hoot and holler and go and do the next one," he said.

Police said five sea turtle nests were damaged in the rampage. Turtle Watch said it is possible those nests contained 500 to 600 sea turtle eggs.

It started around 10:30 Saturday night.

"Stakes were splintered. Scattered," said Wiseman.

When daylight broke, Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch had a hard time finding where nests were originally laid because the markers they staked into the ground were also destroyed.

The turtles weren't the only target. Two nesting shore birds were killed and one badly injured.

"It is not going to be tolerated," said Officer Eric Hill.

Officer Hill with Bradenton Beach police said, when caught, the two could face state and federal charges, including fines totaling $100,000 and jail time.

"It takes a lot to preserve our ecosystem and to preserve the sea turtles and shore birds just for somebody to wreck it. It is a shame is what it is," Officer Hill added.

If you have any information you, are asked to contact the Holmes Beach Police Department at 941-708-5804, Bradenton Beach Police at 941-778-6311, or Suzi Fox with the Turtle Watch at 941-778-5638.