Ontario man fined for selling endangered turtles

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TORONTO -- A St. Catharines, Ont., man has been fined $1,950 for illegally selling endangered turtles.

Andrew Fruck was convicted in January under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act for the illegal possession and sale of Eastern musk turtles, a protected species in Ontario.

Following an investigation in 2008, Fruck was identified as a supplier of the reptiles -- known as one of the smallest turtles in Ontario -- within the pet trade.

"The original information came from a Kijiji classified advertisement selling a common musk turtle (with) the resulting investigation of the advertisement eventually leading to Fruck as the initial supplier," said Rick Andrews, an enforcement manager with the Ministry of Natural Resources. "The turtles had been sold by Fruck to an individual at the Ontario Reptile Expo."

Two conservation officers from Aurora, Ont., and Guelph, Ont., districts worked together and seized four turtles from a buyer, who bought them as pets.

It is not known how extensive the endangered turtle market is in the province.

According to Ontario Nature -- a group dedicated to protecting wild species -- the Eastern musk turtle has been in decline because of habitat loss from wetland destruction and shoreline alteration.

The turtles fall under the Endangered Species Act 2007, which makes it illegal to buy, sell or possess them. A small population live in Point Pelee National Park.

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