Turtle mystery has Red Deer resident stumped

A Red Deer man got more than he bargained for at a recent garage sale.

A Red Deer man got more than he bargained for at a recent garage sale.

A government biologist is now examining the unusual find — a large taxidermy turtle — to determine if it’s the critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle.

Nick Hlady, 32, has a bit more time on his hands these days, having been recently laid off from his pipefitter job at the reactor expansion project at Joffre. So there he was on Saturday, garage-sailing around the city when he came across the turtle.

He snapped it up for $20, thinking he might give it to someone he knows as a gift. But when he got home and checked on the Internet, he realized he might be in turtle trouble.

“When I looked it up and it said endangered species, something clicked, alarm bells were going off in my head, like, oh no this isn’t gonna be good!”

There is an international agreement forbidding killing or trading the sea turtle.

“I jumped right out of my skin. I took it outside and put it on the sidewalk and phoned the police.” They referred him to Alberta Fish and Wildlife, and on Monday he took it in to the local office.

“I had to hand it over to a biologist to definitely determine what species it is.” He suspects, based on its markings, that it is the endangered turtle.

The hawksbill turtle has been listed as endangered since 1970 by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and in 1982 it was listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. That’s since been upgraded to “critically endangered”.

Hlady later talked to the owner he bought the turtle and was told she had it for years and didn’t even not know what it was. It came to Canada from Malaysia with her family 40 or 50 years ago, he said.

If it is eventually returned to him by Fish and Wildlife, Hlady might donate it to a museum or wildlife centre.

“I don’t really know exactly what to do with it.”