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Florida poachers caught with 36 dead alligators plus a sack of live hatchlings

September 20, 2010 |  1:56 pm

These 36 alligator carcasses were seized after a traffic stop in Glades County, Fla.

An early morning traffic stop in Florida on Thursday led to the arrest of two men on charges of alligator poaching of enormous proportions -- 55 of the animals, with only one of them legally tagged.

When Glades County Sheriff's Office deputies stopped a pickup truck on Florida's Highway 78 near Moore Haven and looked in the bed of the vehicle, they discovered 36 dead alligators piled on top of each other, plus a bag containing 19 live alligator hatchings.

At that point, deputies called Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers to the scene to investigate.

Joel M. Green, 47, of Fort Myers, Fla., and Donald T. Strenth, 22, of Moore Haven, Fla., were subsequently arrested and are being held at the Glades County Jail without bond. Florida wildlife investigators charged them each with 54 felony counts of illegal possession of American alligators. 

Hatchlings"We hope this case sends a strong message to any would-be poachers," said Capt. Jeff Ardelean of the conservation commission. "We will find you and hold you accountable for wildlife law violations."

The dead alligators were taken to a licensed processor and the hides will be retained for evidence, while the live hatchlings were returned to the wild. Investigators said that it is unclear where the alligators came from or what the men were doing with them.

American alligators are protected under Florida state law and hunting the animal is strictly regulated by the number of tags issued and by harvest quotas. It is unlawful to kill, injure, capture or possess, or to attempt to kill, injure, capture or possess an American alligator without authorization from the commission.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photos: (top) The 36 alligator carcasses were seized after a traffic stop in Glades County, Fla. Credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

(bottom) Nineteen live alligator hatchlings that also were seized were returned to the wild. Two men face felony charges. Credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

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