We see them lounging on logs, crossing the road, or quietly swimming around our docks. But many of us are unaware that slow moving turtles are a hot commodity among smugglers looking to make a quick buck.
Recently, CBC reported that Canadian Border Services have seized 117 turtles being smuggled across the Detroit-Windsor border in the past 5 years.
The turtles are often stored in compartments within vehicles attempting to cross the border, but CBSA agents have also caught smugglers going so far as to tape live turtles to their bodies in order to get through security.
In one instance, a man was caught with 41 live turtles taped to his legs. As a result, the man was sentenced to 5 years in prison for his crime.
In the instance of turtle smuggling, a punishment of this magnitude really does fit the crime, as the illegal trade of animals can have very serious consequences to our domestic endangered animals. The poaching and trade of endangered animals, particularly Ontario’s wood turtle and Blanding’s turtle, has a significant effect on these animals’ populations.
Pair that with the risk of foreign diseases carried by non-native turtles that are smuggled into our borders, and turtle smuggling proves to be a serious crime indeed.
Hopefully, turtle populations will remain stable under the watchful eye of Canadian Border Security. Turtles’ protective shells might keep them safe from predators, but only Canadian Border Security can keep them safe from smugglers!