October 25, 2014
PASO ROBLES, Calif. (AP) - A California Mid-State Fair carnival game operator has been fined for giving away baby turtles as prizes because te tiny creatures are considered a health risk.
The San Luis Obispo Tribune reports 41-year-old Steve John Lopez was fined $1,000 and could face probation.
The tiny turtles were given away at a game where contestants try to throw ping pong balls into floating rings.
Turtles and other reptiles can pose a threat of salmonella with their droppings, but baby turtles are considered more of a health risk because they're handled more frequently.
It's illegal to distribute turtles smaller than 4 inches long.
Department of Fish and Wildlife Lt. Todd Tognazzini says the department is pursuing a criminal complaint.