ENGLEWOOD, Fla. - Two Englewood women face 3rd-degree felony charges after Florida Fish and Wildlife says they knowingly disturbed a threatened Loggerhead Turtle nest.
On June 14th, Juanita Schultz received a letter stating that a Loggerhead Sea Turtle nest had been spotted on her property and asking her permission to have the Coastal Wildlife Club place stakes and survey tape around them to help protect the nest. FWC says, she did anything but protect those turtles.
Later that night, FWC got a complaint that Schultz and her tenant, Mary Cammarano-Richards had taken the stakes out.
"They removed the signs, raked over the area, basically were walking in the area and sitting in the area where the sea turtle nests were," Lt. Jonathon Ruggiero said.
FWC replaced the signs and stakes, but days later, they were gone again. The two women were arrested. But Schultz says, it's not the turtles that are being disturbed.
"This is so ridiculous and such harassment, and this is all over the fact that they don't like this private property, and I've made an issue of it," Schultz said.
She says she's lived here for decades and loves the wildlife. At a press conference, Schultz's daughter, Kim Tollett, defended her mother saying, "She would never ever do anything to disrupt those turtles nests or do anything to put them in harm."
"I didn't think I was a bad person, I just like private property," Schultz said. "Privacy is a hard thing to find, and that's all I ask for."
Schultz says this is her private property, and those who put up the signs were trespassing. FWC says State and Federal laws trump all that. And with the oil spill looming over the already-threatened species, FWC doesn't want to see numbers diminish any further.
If convicted, Schultz and Cammarano-Richards could face up to 5 years in prison.