Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Sunday, July 09, 2017

The alleged kingpin of one of the biggest domestic wildlife smuggling operations ever to hit the East Coast is exactly where you'd expect to find him on a rainy evening in early May: firmly planted in a swivel chair at a big green metal desk inside his renovated Quonset hut on Foster Street, in Ellsworth, Maine. At this post Bill Sheldon waits day and night for fishermen to come and fill his bowl with writhing masses of baby eels.

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The 72-year-old fisherman wears glasses, a blue flannel shirt, jeans, duck boots and a brown L.L. Bean baseball cap. His cell phone goes quack, quack, quack when it rings. The sign above his head reads, "Buying Glass Eels Here," with the day's market price: $1,250 per pound. The eel bowl sits atop a digital scale on a small, four-legged table. Nearby a scented candle burns in a glass jar ("to cut the fish smell"). ...

But on March 30, one week after the start of Maine's 10-week-long eel fishing season, Sheldon and another man, Timothy Lewis, were indicted for illegally trafficking wildlife. They pleaded not guilty.

According to court documents, Lewis, 46, is charged with two felonies involved with conspiring to unlawfully launder eels up and down the East Coast. Sheldon, who operated a business called Kennebec Glass Eels at his home in Woolwich, a motel in Ellsworth, and a rental house in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, is up against more serious charges: seven counts of conspiracy to smuggle eels while violating laws in seven states (Maine, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and South Carolina).

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Maine's glass eel industry got its start with a phone call in 1970 from an American fishery attaché in Tokyo to a freshly minted graduate in wildlife management -- Sheldon -- working at the Maine Department of Marine Resources.

The attaché, Sheldon recalls, said the Japanese were "looking for a supply of baby eels. ‘Do you know anywhere in Maine where there are enough baby eels to start a commercial fishery?' I said, ‘Do we got baby eels? Yeah, we've got tons of 'em.'"

Sheldon spent the spring of '71 documenting abundant eels in the Kennebec, Penobscot, and St. Croix Rivers -- and in every brook he checked in the area. The following spring he turned to figuring out how to catch them. "A handheld dip net was perfect," he says. "I also came up with a trap -- it's known as the Sheldon trap -- made of two window screens and a box."


Love stories like this one... so many angles to it. From how it all started, to the international logistics of eel farming, to how this one guy's business provides off-season economic opportunities for day laborers and fisherpeople in Maine. :)

#1 | Posted by GOnoles92 at 2017-07-10 02:09 AM | Reply | Funny: 1

Love stories like this one... so many angles to it. From how it all started, to the international logistics of eel farming, to how this one guy's business provides off-season economic opportunities for day laborers and fisherpeople in Maine. :)
#1 | POSTED BY GONOLES92

Celebrating poaching and smuggling? I'm not surprised.

#2 | Posted by Sycophant at 2017-07-10 12:23 PM | Reply

LOL^^, such spin. There was a legal way to do this operation but the guys apparently chose not to do that.

#3 | Posted by GOnoles92 at 2017-07-10 06:35 PM | Reply

As usual Gonoles is on a slippery slope.

But, eel be ok.

#4 | Posted by donnerboy at 2017-07-10 06:48 PM | Reply

Prisoner #1: Hey "Killer", whatcha in for?

Killer: Murder, rape and assault!

Prisoner #1: How 'bout you, "Scarface"?

Scarface: Kidnapping and assault!

Prisoner #1: How ;bout YOU, nubie? What'd ya do?

Newbie: Um, ah, eel smuggling.

Prisoner #1: Just found my new girlfriend!

#5 | Posted by cookfish at 2017-07-11 02:05 PM | Reply

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