A Bolingbrook man's endangered turtle caught him a criminal case and an Indiana man ran afoul of the conservation cops by importing disease-prone fish, according to a complaint filed in Will County court.
Jim Visinaiz, 35, of 465 Bloomfield Drive was charged with the unlawful possession of an endangered species without a valid permit for allegedly owning an
alligator snapping turtle.
The Indiana man—Phillip Traylor, 59, of Lowell—was charged with the unlawful import of viral hemorrhagic septicemia-susceptible fish. The disease-prone fish Taylor allegedly shipped in were golden shiners and fathead minnows, according to a criminal complaint.
American Sport Fish said golden shiners are "widely used as live bait by freshwater fishermen. They are also a good source of food for bass."
The fathead minnow is a "small, olive-colored baitfish that has been used for a century or more as bait for small predator fish such as crappie," according to American Sport Fish.
Viral hemorrhagic septicemia can be spread by certain species of baitfish. It is a "serious pathogen of fresh and saltwater fish that is causing a disease issue in the Great Lakes region of the United States and Canada," according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. While deadly to fish, the disease poses no threat to people.
A Lowell business, Realistic Bait LLC, which lists the same 15820 Chestnut St. address as Taylor's home, was also named as a defendant in a separate criminal complaint. As with Taylor, the business was charged with importing the supposedly risky fish.
A woman answering the phone at Realistic Bait identified herself as Taylor's wife. She said he was not available to discuss the case but dismissed the charge as "a bogus ticket they wrote."
Taylor's wife did not know if Visinaiz's case—which was charged by Conservation Police Officer Heath Tepovich immediately before Taylor's—was connected to her husband's matter in any way and did not recognize his name.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources was unable to immediately provide information on the cases Friday.
The endangered turtle allegedly possessed by Visinaiz is found "almost exclusively in the rivers, canals, and lakes of the southeastern United States" and "can live to be 50 to 100 years old," according to the website for National Geographic.
"The prehistoric-looking alligator snapping turtle is the largest freshwater turtle in North America and among the largest in the world," the site said. "With its spiked shell, beaklike jaws, and thick, scaled tail, this species is often referred to as the 'dinosaur of the turtle world.'"
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