(CN) – A Brunswick, Ga. man has been sentenced to 21 months in prison after his second conviction for stealing sea turtle eggs from a beach on coastal Sapelo Island.
Lewis Jackson, 61, was already on probation for looting Loggerhead turtle nests and trying to remove 150 turtle eggs from the Island in 2012.
On July 6, 2015, prosecutors said, a wildlife technician with the Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources Sea Turtle Program discovered that 84 sea turtle egg were missing from monitored nests. An investigation revealed Jackson had been to the island that day, and he was arrested the following morning as he tried to leave with a cooler full of turtle eggs.
In Georgia, the loggerhead sea turtle is listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act and is the most common sea turtle which nests on Sapelo Island.
Prosecutors said at the time of his arrest, Jackson appeared to have wrapped the eggs with the intent to sell them. Loggerhead eggs now fetch as much as $25 per egg on the black market.
Because of Jackson’s handling of the turtle eggs — he reportedly boiled them with cayenne pepper — they were no longer viable and were therefore destroyed, officials said.
“I made a bad mistake,” Jackson said at his sentencing by U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood. “I just ask the court to have mercy.” That’s all I can say.”
But Judge Wood told Jackson he’d “squandered” his chance for leniency and sentenced him to a week in prison for each sea turtle egg he made off with.
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