Teen charged with violations in turtle beating

ELMA, N.Y. (WIVB) — The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation has leveled charges against the teen who is accused of beating a snapping turtle to death in Elma.

The teen, who is 16 and from Elma, is charged with two violations of state’s Environmental Conservation Law.

The disturbing video shows at least two teens poking a snapping turtle with a stick, and then throwing a larger tree branch on top of its shell, cracking it open.

This video spread quickly on social media — with many people saying the teens were from Iroquois High School.

The district’s superintendent said the incident didn’t happen during school hours or on school property — but the district is conducting it’s own investigation.

Snapping turtles are protected and regulated under the state’s environmental conservation law.

Gina Browning, of the Erie County SPCA, talked to News 4 recently about the state’s push to increase penalties for certain kinds of animal abuse. She also discussed the role social media plays in these types of investigations.

“Because of social media, people are more aware that animal cruelty may be happening,” Browning said. “People are starting to look for. People are starting to question things. There is more of a capacity to report animal cruelty anonymously than there ever was before.

The teen is charged with illegally pursuing wildlife and attempting to take wildlife during a closed season. Both violations carrying a potential fine of up to $250 or up to 15 days in jail.

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