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The following article was taken from page #1 of the September 17, 1997 issue of THE CALDWELL MESSENGER. THE CALDWELL MESSENGER is published weekly in the southcentral Kansas town of Caldwell, Kansas 67022. Caldwell, Kansas is located south of Wichita, Kansas near the Oklahoma border in Sumner County, Kansas.


The past several weeks many individuals have been arrested or issued citations in reference to their illegal trafficking of wildlife. Several agencies were involved in the investigation and other individuals could possibly be charged later.

These individuals were catching reptiles and/or box turtles, "The State Reptile" and selling them in Kansas and out of state. Any individual can collect up to five (5) of any species for personal use with the proper license, but not for commercial purposes. Several hundred ornate box turtles and three-toed box turtles were reportedly caught and sold to different individuals. Several individuals are being charged in Montgomery County, Kansas for various violations. The individuals charged are Dan Newton, Scott Brittain, Rex Horning, Gregory McCollam, Frank O'Mara and Brent Baty. All are from the Montgomery County, area.

The ornate box turtle became the official state reptile of Kansas on Monday, 14 April 1986 when Governor John Carlin signed a bill that had been passed by both the Kansas House and the Kansas Senate. Governor Carlin signed the bill in front of several hundred people at the school in Caldwell, Kansas in what the Governor stated was the largest bill signing cermony ever held during his terms as Governor of Kansas.

The idea of having this unique animal named the state reptile was that of the 17 students in the 1985-86 Caldwell, Kansas sixth grade class. They had started their campaign during October 1985, and by early 1986 they had gained the support of thousands of students and other interested people all across Kansas, and even a number of other states.

Kansas Wildlife and Parks officials thought it would be quite appropriate to release the rescued ornate box turtlesin Caldwell "Home of the Ornate Box Turtle." On Thursday, September 11, 1997 several turtles were released back into the wild south of Caldwell near the Chisholm Trail Silouettes. Among those present were 80th District Representative bill McCreary, Richard Harrold of Kansas Wildlife and Parks, Brad Peterson of Kansas Wildlife and Parks (Sumner County), Caldwell Children's Center students and staff, Children from the Punkin' Patch, Channel 3 personnel, several community members and three students from the sixth grade class who in 1986 helped make it all possible - Mandy Struble, Julie Shellhammer and Shane Schmidt.