Former Fed Fined for Tapole Tampering

A former federal wildlife manager who says he moved about 400 protected tadpoles from a backyard pond to a refuge for their own safety has agreed to pay a $3,500 fine to avoid a criminal charge, his lawyer said.

Wayne Shifflett, the longtime manager of Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, said he was afraid the tadpoles would be eaten by frogs.

The tadpoles were young speckled frogs, which have been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act since 2002. Permits are typically required to handle or move protected animals. Harming them can be a federal crime.

Shifflett will pay the fine “because he doesn’t want to deal with the expense and aggravation and stress of dealing with a criminal charge,” his attorney, Jeff Buchella, said in Tuesday’s Arizona Daily Star. “I don’t think he felt he did anything wrong.”

Shifflett was removed from his post at the 118,000-acre refuge last year after an investigation. He retired last May.

Sue Chilton, a state game and fish commissioner, said Shifflett “can’t assume that because he had a noble goal that excuses him from following the procedures.”

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