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Three charged with killing Fla. tortoises

June 5, 2012 at 4:11 PM   |   Comments

CHRISTMAS, Fla., June 5 (UPI) -- Two young Florida men and one teen have been charged with torturing and killing two endangered gopher tortoises, police said.

Michael Dublin, 20, of Jacksonville, Dalton Bothwell, 19, of Middleburg and a 17-year-old Middleburg boy were charged with killing and wounding a threatened species and felony cruelty to animals, the Orlando Sentinel reported Monday. Both charges are third-degree felonies, each carrying a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Wildlife officers say the three ran over two gopher tortoises in the Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area May 27. When they came back to see that the tortoises had survived, they picked them up and slammed them onto the ground.

Officers said they found two severely injured tortoises in the road while on patrol about 2 p.m.

"Its upper and lower shells were cracked open, and internal organs were protruding from its sides," officers said in a release. "There was a large amount of blood on the road and the tortoise was barely alive. Nearby was another, smaller tortoise. It too had a cracked shell and was surrounded by a pool of blood."

Officer Steve McDaniel said both animals later died.

"They made no attempt to render aid or take the animals to a vet," McDaniel said. "They said they simply wanted to 'see what would happen if we dropped it.'"

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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