February 28, 2011 | 10:42am
If your neighbor invites you over for a slice of barbecued sperm whale, don't start planning the sides you'll bring. There's a decent chance your meal could land you in the clink.
As several locals have discovered recently, tampering with protected wildlife can cost you. It all began earlier this month with Christopher Hogan, one of two
men arrested for taking the tail of a dead pygmy sperm whale that washed up on a Delray Beach shore last September.
Hogan was arrested, unaware he had broken a federal law that that says it's illegal to possess the parts of sea mammals.
Because Hogan, 60, didn't kill the whale, he received a written warning -- and wasn't charged with collecting animal parts, a criminal offense fineable up to $100,000 and a year in jail.
That wasn't the case for Riviera Beach resident Kenneth Coleman, 48, who pleaded guilty late last week to stealing the eggs of endangered
sea turtles, a felony in Florida.
Coleman received a two-and-a-half-year sentence for his intention to sell the 123 green sea turtle eggs he collected on the black market, where they go for as much as $350 apiece.
Last week, South Florida resident Calvin Lee Devol Jr. was also charged with an animal-related crime -- killing an alligator without a license
. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which manages more than 575 protected state species
, the recreational alligator hunting season ends on November 1, and Devol was found with a dead alligator in the back of a stolen pickup truck two weeks later.
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