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Three charged for allegedly blowing up turtle with firecrackers

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LANCASTER COUNTY, Penn. — Two men and a teen have been charged after allegedly killing a turtle by taping firecrackers to the reptile and blowing it up, authorities said.

The blast happened just before 7 p.m. on Aug. 3 in Penn Township, Penn.

Police were called about a possible explosion and found a small crater with what appeared to be pieces of bone fragments, biological membrane and the remains of a large turtle in the same area.

Witnesses described the culprits and the truck they were driving, ultimately leading to three arrests.

Taylor James Geib, 21; Austin Mathew Garner, 21; and a 17-year-old boy have been charged with criminal conspiracy and prohibited offensive weapons. The trio allegedly told police they duct-taped two M-80 firecrackers to the shell of the turtle.

Forgotten Friends Reptile Sanctuary owner Jesse Rothacker couldn't believe someone would treat a turtle in this way.

"When you strap explosives to an animal and blow them up, that's just something that we should not accept in our society," he said.

According to Pennsylvania law, animal cruelty covers domesticated animals and turtles are not considered domesticated.

Rothacker said the law needs to be changed.

"If the laws don't reflect that it's animal cruelty, we need to change the laws and make sure people know that is animal cruelty," he said.

Rothacker said there is no reason to do this to a turtle, saying they are harmless creatures.

The state Fish and Boat Commission is investigating and more charges could be filed, including fishing without a license and the use of explosives.

According to police, there is no date set for the suspects' preliminary hearing.