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Minnesota meat market owner accused of illegally snapping up snapping turtles

Minnesota meat market owner accused of illegally snapping up snapping turtles

FRAZEE, Minn. – One of the owners of Ketter’s meat market here has been charged with two misdemeanors for allegedly taking and possessing snapping turtles out of season.

Kevin Robert Ketter, 54, of Frazee has been charged in Becker County District Court with possessing wild animals in violation of state law and taking snapping turtles in a closed season.

In the citation, the DNR officer wrote, « Ketter acknowledged he purchased turtles and was in possession of snapping turtles during June, during the closed season. »

State law prohibits taking snapping turtles in May and June.

Ketter could not be reached for comment Friday.

Two other men were also charged with misdemeanors in the case, which involved an undercover DNR operative, surveillance photos and a search warrant.

Jordan Michael Ketter, 21, of Frazee, was charged with taking snapping turtles in a closed season. On the citation, the DNR officer wrote: « Ketter was observed on surveillance, unloading several turtles from the back of a vehicle he is known to drive. »

Darwin Duane Bartel, 54, of Frazee, was also charged with taking snapping turtles in a closed season. On the citation, the DNR officer wrote: « Bartel admitted to possessing the snapping turtle during the closed season — he brought it to the market to clean for his personal use. »

All three men were cited Oct. 19.

Besides the covert agent, the DNR involved another secret weapon: photos.

« Based in part upon past information related to the illegal possession of snapping turtles, surveillance equipment was installed near Ketter’s meat market in June, » DNR Conservation Office Chris Vinton wrote in the search warrant application.

« Surveillance photos show numerous snapping turtles brought into Ketter’s meat market by various vehicles for sale and/or processing from June 13 to June 18. Some of the vehicles are registered to employees at Ketter’s. »

The DNR officer checked and found that Ketter’s is not a licensed turtle seller in Minnesota.

According to the DNR, several factors prompted concern for the snapping turtle’s status in Minnesota and led to its listing as a special concern species in 1984.

The major factor is the unknown and possibly detrimental effects of commercial harvest on local populations. Common snapping turtles are harvested for their meat, and used for human consumption.

The Minnesota DNR allows licensees to take an unlimited number of adults, provided that the shell length is greater than 12 inches.