SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. — A man accused of digging inside a marked sea turtle nesting site was charged by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, a news release explains.
On Aug. 8, the FWC received a call about a disturbed sea turtle nest in Nokomis Beach Park. The caller sent a video of a man reportedly digging inside a marked nesting site.
The caller apparently knew the man seen in the video, but FWC officers weren't able to find him. Officers continued to keep an eye out for the man, but eventually, months passed with no other leads on his location.
It wasn't until this May that officers discovered new information while investigating which led them to the man in a neighboring county, according to the release.
Nathan John Lechner, 22, of Venice was charged with a third-degree felony for the destruction and molestation of a sea turtle nest.
"Florida’s sandy beaches provide important spring and summer nesting habitat for several species of federally threatened and endangered sea turtles, including loggerhead, leatherback and green sea turtles, with occasional nesting by federally endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles," FWC leaders explained in the release.
According to the government agency, getting too close to nesting sea turtles can cause them to leave the beach before they complete nesting.
"All species of sea turtles and their nests are protected and should not be disturbed," FWC leaders explained in the release. "It is illegal to harm, harass or take nesting sea turtles, their eggs and hatchlings."
The public can report anyone disturbing a sea turtle or nest, as well as sea turtles that are sick, injured, entangled or dead by contacting the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline. Send a text to 847411 (Tip411) with the keyword “FWC” followed by the location and any information you can about the violation, call FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or submit a tip online at myfwc.com/contact/wildlife-alert/.
For more information about nesting sea turtles and how you can help, visit myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/wildlife/sea-turtle/.