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Florida wildlife officials looking for suspect who painted gopher tortoise’s shell pink

Stop painting gopher tortoises, Animal Hospital of West Port St. Lucie pleads

Someone is painting Florida's tortoises, endangering the reptiles
Someone is painting Florida's tortoises, endangering the reptiles

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Wildlife officials in Florida are searching for the person, or persons that painted the top of a gopher tortoise’s shell pink.

The tortoise has been rescued and an authorized facility is working to remove the paint, Florida Fish and Wildlife (FWC) said on Friday.

A second gopher tortoise with a painted shell was also reported but has not yet been found.

Painting a tortoise’s shell may seem harmless, but it is illegal.

“Painting the shells of turtles and tortoises can cause respiratory problems, allow toxic chemicals into the bloodstream, and can make them more visible to predators, FWC said. “Do not try to capture the tortoise or remove the paint yourself, as doing so could cause more harm – contact Wildlife Alert instead.”

Veterinarians in the area said this is an ongoing problem. They hope the recurring incidents lead to an arrest.

If you have any information about who may have applied the paint to these gopher tortoises in the St. Lucie County or Okeechobee County areas, contact our Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or by texting Tip@MyFWC.com from your cell phone.

Click here to learn about gopher tortoises.

About the Author:

Carianne Luter is a social media producer for News4Jax and has worked at Channel 4 since December 2015. She graduated from the University of North Florida with a degree in communications.