Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officers arrested a 52-year-old Lakeland resident at his home for numerous violations of state laws that protect wildlife. Deputies with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office also arrested two others at the residence near Saddle Creek on unrelated drug charges.
At about 9 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18, FWC law enforcement officers and Polk County deputies armed with a search warrant found Michael Todd Munford (DOB 10/16/59) at his home at 2648 State Park Road in possession of illegally taken alligator parts as well as gopher tortoise and migratory bird parts.
Munford was booked into the Polk County jail by FWC officers, charged with:
- one third-degree felony count of killing an American alligator – punishable by up to five years in prison and/or up to a $5,000 fine;
- two second-degree misdemeanor counts for illegally possessing alligator parts – punishable by up to 60 days in jail and/or up to a $1,000 fine; and
- two second-degree misdemeanor counts – one each for illegal possession of gopher tortoise parts and possession of migratory bird parts.
Last week, FWC investigators received a tip with supporting evidence that Munford and others at the northeast Lakeland residence had violated numerous state laws. Various, illegal wildlife-related items found at the residence included unmarked packages of alligator meat with the hide still attached, unmarked alligator skulls and toes, a gopher tortoise shell and a variety of migratory bird wings and feathers believed to be from vultures. Munford had none of the documentation or permits required to possess these items legally.
If you witness a wildlife law violation, you may report it to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Reward Program by calling 888-404-3922 or by texting Tip@MyFWC.com (standard usage fees may apply to texting). Those reporting violations can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward. For details, go to MyFWC.com/WildlifeAlert.