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To Avoid Harming Them, FWC Reminds Public It's Illegal To Paint Gopher Tortoises, Turtles

Mark Lotz
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
This is a “Before” image of an illegally painted gopher tortoise. After its discovery, the gopher tortoise has now been cleaned up by a licensed wildlife rehabilitator and released back into the wild.";s:

Florida wildlife officials are reminding the public it’s illegal to harass tortoises or turtles. That includes painting them.

In the last few weeks, two turtles—one painted red and another painted blue—were reported to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. And, in recent months, FWC officials have gotten similar reports as well.

“Some people we’ve seen have put phrases or sayings on the gopher tortoise shell whether it’s with a sharpie marker or some other kind of paint material,” said Deborah Burr, the FWC’s Gopher Tortoise Program Coordinator.

Burr says all that is harmful to the turtles and gopher tortoises as their shells are absorbent.

“The toxins from paint could enter into its bloodstream and prove to be harmful that way. Painting a shell could also make it more vulnerable to more predators,” she added. “Gopher tortoises and turtles are naturally camouflaged in their habitats. Their shells tend to be brown, gray, and they kind of blend in with their environment.”

Any violators can be reported via the FWC app or the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC.

“You know, people think painting them is cute,” Burr concluded. “Maybe, it’s a canvass for some people, but it’s really harmful to the animal. And you know, just out of respect for wildlife, just let them be, observe them from a distance and enjoy their movements and their activities and we have just a great opportunity to experience wildlife in Florida.”

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.