It took Fred Jackson 2 years to clear all the hurdles to start up the Tahoe Lobster Company. There were permits to get, a boat to buy and equip and there was research to be done to find the crayfish in Lake Tahoe. Now his dream business has hit another snag. Someone is stealing their traps.
"Those traps are $20 a piece and we lost 20 of them just last week," said Justin Pulliam with the Tahoe Lobster Company. "Of you consider they hold 5 pounds of crayfish a piece that sell for like $4 or $5 a pound that's nearly an $8,000 loss!"
Jackson is the founder and owner of the company. Justin Pulliam is only employee right now. They know others have applied for permits and will become their competition but they never dreamed anyone would actually steal their traps.
"There is a fisherman's code," Pulliam said. "A lot of folks fish the water and if you see buoys that aren't yours you leave them alone. They are there for a reason. It's hard to believe people would just take them."
"It's a felony alright," said Chris Healy with the Nevada Department of Wildlife. "And for now it's a mystery. No one has seen anyone take the traps, but they're missing. And they've lost 77 traps in all since they began in July. That's a felony."
And it's cutting into not only profits but data the company has been collecting. It's believed that the excrement from so many crawfish in Lake Tahoe is threatening the lake's clarity and so as part of their mission the Tahoe Lobster Company tracks where the crayfish are coming from and they are also keeping samples to compare clarity as they harvest the crayfish.
For now the Department of Wildlife, the Carson City Sheriff's Office and the Coast Guard are involved. The Coast Guard will be making more patrols in the area where the Tahoe Lobster Company has dropped traps.
The Department of Wildlife is also asking anyone with information to call their Operation Game Thief tipline at 800-992-3030. Your call will remain anonymous.
Saturday, May 25 2013 2:16 AM EDT2013-05-25 06:16:04 GMT
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