Young Valley girl helps save sea turtle

A young girl in Willacy County knew it was illegal for a fisherman to keep a live sea turtle, so she reported the crime to authorities.

According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department monthly field notes, game wardens received a tip that a fisherman in Port Mansfield might have kept a sea turtle.

After searching the area, they found the vehicle they were looking for and inside discovered an ice chest filled with water containing the turtle.

It is illegal to touch or harass sea turtles as nearly all of them are protected by the U.S. Endangered Species Act of 1973.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says anyone who tries to harm, hunt, shoot, trap or capture a turtle or has in their possession any part of an endangered turtle, could be found guilty of a Class A misdemeanor and be sentenced up to one year in jail and face a fine of $100,000.

The game wardens seized the turtle and then gathered information for a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration federal case.

The game wardens were surprised to find the concerned caller was a 13-year-old girl and say she was ecstatic to find out the fisherman had been caught.

They thanked the teen for calling and congratulated her on doing a great job.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has its own Crime Stoppers program called Operation Game Thief. It offers rewards of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction for a wildlife crime.

You can report a crime by calling (800) 792-4263.