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Guilty Plea Filed on Turtle Charges

Posted on Dec 1, 2006 - 9:21 AM

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Guilty plea filed on turtle charges

November 30, 2006

By Susan Smallheer Herald Staff

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION A 30-year-old Londonderry woman pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges that she tried to ship several wild Vermont turtles to Florida.

Jilian Congdon was fined $150 by District Judge Robert Bent, who also levied about $50 in surcharges and court costs. Congdon could have been fined $500.

The case came to the attention of Vermont Fish and Wildlife officials after a box that Congdon dropped off at Bibens Hardware and Home Center in Springfield for pickup by United Parcel Service started moving.

According to court records, Congdon told the employees at Bibens that the box contained worms, and after the box started moving, she changed her story and said it actually contained an iguana.

But when the UPS driver heard about the moving box, he refused to accept it for shipment, since it contained a live animal.

And Bibens' employees, using a flashlight, peered into the holes in the box and discovered the turtles. They opened the box to give the turtles more air and eventually called Fish and Wildlife officials.

According to court records, Congdon was trying to ship a total of seven turtles to a man in Florida for $200. Congdon told police in a written statement that the turtles belonged to her son, but that the family wanted to get a dog instead and found a willing buyer in Florida via the Internet.

The turtles included two domesticated, pet-store variety turtles, according to Steven Parren, a biologist with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department and chief of the nongame and natural heritage program.

But Parren said two of the turtles were North American wood turtles, approximately two and six years old that Parren said based on their behavior and growth pattern were taken from the wild. He also said that three other turtles were young western pond turtles.

In Vermont, it is illegal to possess any live wild bird or animal of any kind without a permit from the state.

Contact Susan Smallheer at susan.smallheer@rutlandherald.com.



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