(Credit: Thinkstock)

(Credit: Thinkstock)

PASO ROBLES (AP) – A California Mid-State Fair carnival game operator faces a fine for giving away baby turtles as prizes because the tiny creatures are considered a health risk.

The San Luis Obispo Tribune reports 41-year-old Steve John Lopez was fined $1,000 and could face probation.

The tiny turtles were given away at a game where contestants try to throw ping pong balls into floating rings.

Turtles and other reptiles can pose a threat of salmonella with their droppings, but baby turtles are considered more of a health risk because they’re handled more frequently.

It’s illegal to distribute turtles smaller than 4 inches long.

Department of Fish and Wildlife Lt. Todd Tognazzini says the department is pursuing a criminal complaint.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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