What to Know
- The gopher tortoise was found in the middle of a road near Orlando.
- A reward has been offered for information that leads to the identity of the person or persons responsible.
- Gopher tortoises are state-listed as threatened and are a protected species.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said a gopher tortoise was found covered in red spray paint and with concrete on its limbs and on top of its shell.
The tortoise was found in the middle of County Road 455 south of Montverde, in Lake County near Orlando, by two good Samaritans who took it to a wildlife rehabilitation center.
"It is both illegal and very harmful to the health of a gopher tortoise to apply man-made substances, such as paint or concrete, to any part of their body or shell," FWC said in a statement on Wednesday.
Gopher tortoises are state-listed as threatened and are a protected species.
"Applying substances like paint on tortoises can inhibit their ability to absorb vitamins from the sun’s UV rays through their shells, has the potential to cause respiratory problems and can lead to harmful chemicals being absorbed into their bloodstream," FWC said. "Removing paint and concrete from gopher tortoises without harming it is a challenging process that causes the animal stress."
Anyone with information about who may have applied the paint and concrete on the tortoise is urged to call the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC . Tips, which may be eligible for a reward, can also be sent to Tip@MyFWC.com.