Illegal tiny turtles pour into animal shelters

DENVER -- The sale of illegal turtles are on the rise across the metro area. Now, the tiny turtles are ending up in area animal shelters where they are usually put to sleep.

Slider turtles are being brought in from Texas and the criminals are spreading out across the state.

The species are being sold illegally for $10 at makeshift stands across the state.

“If I'm the person running this operation and I got six or seven people on a Saturday doing that, that's a $7,000 take home,” said Nick Fisher with the Colorado Department Agriculture.

"We are seeing more and more of the sliders coming into the shelter,” said Duane Adams, vice president of operations with the Dumb Friends League.

Adams said many area shelters are getting them and most have to be euthanized.

"When you start seeing that it's like what's going on, something's happening, somebody set up a street corner and they're doing something illegal,” Adams said.

Even after they are cited for selling on a street corner, they simply move to another. They have even been seen in Colorado Springs and out on the Western Slope.

Coming in from Texas, the turtles are a dangerous impulse buy for parents.

“They're very small and a choking hazard. They also have carrying bacteria that would be very dangerous to the child,” Adams said.

Added Fisher: “I think why they're getting relinquished to shelters is the people understand the turtles aren't healthy so I'll take it to the shelter cause I can't incur the vet costs."

Officials are still trying to stop the illegal sales, but the people selling them don’t care.

"These are very problematic because they're illegal by state statute for anyone to have them or to transfer them or bring them in,” Adams said.