Suspect's Snapping Turtle Surprises Tulsa Police, Gives Game Warden Education

Tuesday, June 2nd 2015, 11:59 am
By: Richard Clark

An Oklahoma game warden answered a call that was so unusual, he didn't know how to handle the suspect. Literally.

It happened on Friday, May 29, 2015. Game Warden Carlos Gomez got a call for help from Tulsa Police and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Tulsa police were investigating a car wreck when they became suspicious of the driver. They discovered the vehicle matched the description of one involved in a hit and run crash on the Muskogee Turnpike in Wagoner County, so they called the OHP.

Officers and Troopers were searching the car when they got a ferocious surprise. Inside the trunk they found drugs, and a mean-spirited snapping turtle. The startled officers and troopers slammed the trunk and called Game Warden Carlos Gomez.

"The turtle had them a little intimidated," said Gomez. 

He removed the turtle from the trunk, then held it by its tail as he posed for photos. He got an earful about it, once the Oklahoma Wildlife Department posted the pictures on Facebook.

"There's a way you're supposed to pick up a turtle," he said, and he has since learned that holding it by the tail is not the way.

"Use both hands, supporting the weight of the turtle," he said, "And hold it near the back of the shell."

He says as a game warden he should have known the proper technique, but says this shows just how rare this call was. He's had to rescue snapping turtles once or twice in his 35-year career, but never from the trunk of a car.

Gomez released the turtle in a creek while troopers finished searching the car. They think the driver put the snapping turtle in the trunk to protect his stash of drugs.