Florida Man Arrested In Case Of Gopher Tortoise Painted Red

May 16, 2018

Do you remember the story last month about the gopher tortoise in Florida who was found covered in red paint and concrete? 

gopher tortoise


A 37-year-old man was arrested for littering and possession of a gopher tortoise.

Well, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission arrested a 37-year-old man in the case. Edwin Escalera was arrested and charged with littering and illegal possession of a gopher tortoise, according to CBS 12. According to the report, Escalaera didn’t properly dispose of his excess paint and instead dumped it down a hole that turned out to be a gopher tortoise burrow. Escalera, according to the arrest report, didn’t see a tortoise in the burrow and dumped the paint down the hole because he was in a hurry. And he claimed he had no idea how the tortoise was covered in concrete as well. Escalera’s bail was set at $3,000.

Gopher tortoises are state-listed as Threatened and are a protected species. Rules and regulations regarding gopher tortoises can be found here: https://bit.ly/2voyOnL Photos courtesy of Kim Titterington

Posted by MyFWC on Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Gopher tortoises, their nests and their burrows are protected by Florida law. In fact, the law states that the reptile, the reptile’s burrow and the 25 feet surrounding the burrow are protected and can’t be disturbed without a FWC gopher tortoise relocation permit. Paint was apparently sprayed near the burrow as well. 

Escalera apparently had neither, nor was he in the process of relocating a gopher tortoise. 

Gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) are protected throughout their range either by state or federal law. Gopher tortoises are listed as threatened species in the state of Florida. Both the tortoise and their burrow are protected. They reach maturity at 10-15 years of age and are considered a long lived tortoise.


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