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Florida Homeless Man Arrested In Case Of Sea Turtle Egg Poaching

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PALM BEACH, Florida -- Information gleaned from an early morning traffic stop in Palm Beach on Friday resulted in a multi-agency effort and race against the clock to save more than 100 sea turtle eggs.

A police officer, from the Town of Palm Beach, conducting surveillance stopped Bruce W. Bivins, DOB 07/22/56, in the early morning hours Friday. The officer received information from a traffic stop that a man was possibly taking sea turtle eggs from the beach. Soon after, the officer noticed Bivins walking over the Southern Boulevard Causeway bridge with a bag. Bivins took off when the officer tried to stop him.

The officer watched as Bivins threw the bag into the water. Once a back-up officer arrived a short time later, Bivins was placed in handcuffs, and the officers pulled the bag out of the water. Officers found 119 sea turtle eggs inside in the bag. Bivins was taken into custody, and Palm Beach police called the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation (FWC) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The FWC charged Bivins, who is homeless, with possession of sea turtle eggs and disturbing a sea turtle nest, both felonies. He was booked into the Palm Beach County jail.

Just before sunrise, the eggs were safely reburied on Palm Beach. FWC biologists will monitor the site. It is hoped at least some of the eggs will hatch.

This is not the first time Bivins has been arrested for poaching. In 1997, he was charged with possessing sea turtle eggs. Sea turtle eggs can be sold on the black market for as much as $35 a dozen. They are presumed by some people to have aphrodisiac properties; in years past, sea turtle eggs also were used in cooking and baking in some areas of Florida.

“We are pleased to bring this repeat wildlife resource offender to justice,” said FWC Capt. Jeff Ardelean. “This arrest happened because of the cooperation among local, state and federal agencies.”

Sea turtle nesting season has begun on Florida’s coast. Sea turtles are protected by state and federal laws. It is against the law to take, possess, disturb, mutilate, destroy, sell, transfer, molest or harass marine turtles, nests or eggs.

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