UPDATE: Authorities say they've found the man who hammered a turtle to death near Lady Bird Lake. Several people called Texas Parks and Wildlife's "Operation Game Thief" anonymous tip hot line - identifying the man as 57-year-old Terry Washington of Austin.
Texas Parks and Wildlife game wardens issued Washington two Class C misdemeanors for "hunting non-game wildlife without a license" and "illegal dumping of wildlife resources." We are still waiting to hear if APD will be filing charges.
Texas Parks and Wildlife is investigating after an alarming video captured a man beating a turtle to death with a hammer at Lady Bird Lake.
Geoffrey Frank captured video of the incident that happened Tuesday night and he said it was not something he was expecting to see when he went for his jog. “I noticed a small crowd of people were gathering up by the little fishing area,” he said. The small crowd was watching a couple of guys fishing. “I started recording on my phone and I was like must be a big fish. So when I zoom, I notice it's a turtle, so they're struggling and he takes the hammer out and he starts kind of banging at the turtle, I guess to get it on shore,” Frank said.
But what happened next Frank said was quite disturbing.
“As soon as the turtle is on shore, that's when I started recording again, and that's when you can see on the video he's smashing the turtle's shell and he's smashing his head.” Frank said the group of people was shocked and flabbergasted at what they were witnessing. “One guy next to me was yelling, ‘Okay he's dead now, you can stop, he's dead now.’ He just kept going at it, until somebody yelled, that's when he looked at us, grabbed the turtle by the tail and just dragged it under the tunnel.”
The area is a really popular spot on Lady Bird Lake where a lot of people run, bike and fish. A trail of blood could still be seen leading to the carcass of the turtle under the bridge.
Frank said fortunately no children witnessed the incident, but he couldn't just do nothing. “I didn't think this was something that someone could do, just to kill a turtle without remorse. It sort of dawned on me, that's what families do, they come to look at turtles and fish, and why would somebody want to come here and see a guy smash a turtle to death.” Frank reported the incident to 311.
Texas Parks and Wildlife said turtles eat the same thing as fish, so fisherman have to be prepared if they hook a turtle, to be able to get them off the line safely. They said if the turtle killed in the video is endangered, it would be illegal to kill. If not you'd still have to have a hunting license. But killing it and leaving it for dead is unlawful. “If this guy can kill a turtle just like that, what leads you to believe his anger, that type of anger, he will unleash it on a person,” Frank said.
Anyone who knows the man in the video is asked to call the Wildlife Crime Stoppers anonymous tip hotline at 800-792-GAME. The video has also been turned over to the APD, Animal Cruelty Division, there’s no word yet if they will be investigating as well.