Posthaste Facts on the Environment #11

Armed State Employees Raid Turtle Sanctuary

Produced September 1995

Government employees can work hard -- especially at enforcing regulations. Douglas Albert of New Jersey learned this the hard way.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) thinks that Douglas Albert should find a new hobby. Mr. Albert has spent thousands of dollars raising and providing habitat for several species in his backyard, including endangered bog turtles. After attempting to obtain a permit for five years (unsuccessfully, because D.E.P. did not have an application form) this nature lover soon found himself the target of a surprise morning raid on his home and turtle refuge. A dozen state employees, armed with weapons, seized 27 bog turtles from his pond and had them placed under quarantine at the Bronx Zoo. "They pounced on me like a lion," said Albert, who began raising the turtles in 1968 -- five years before D.E.P. listed them as an endangered species. DEP officials claim they confiscated the turtles not only because it is illegal under New Jersey law to keep an endangered species as a pet, but because the turtles could transmit disease to other turtle populations in the area. In addition to facing possible fines, a state employee threatened to bankrupt Albert's mother with legal fees if she started any trouble. "[We] have more than 450 lawyers working on environmental problems," the employee warned.

Source: Associated Press and the Hudson County Taxpayers Association


Posthaste Facts on the Environment #11, published by The National Center for Public Policy Research, 501 Capitol Court, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002, 202/543-4110, Fax (202) 543-5975, E-Mail [email protected], Web http://www.nationalcenter.org. For more information about Posthaste #11 contact Bob Adams at 202/543-4110 or [email protected]

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