Florida man busted for eating threatened tortoises

It's against Florida law to even keep a Gopher tortoise as a pet.
By Heather Records  |  Aug. 28, 2014 at 4:26 PM
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CITRUS COUNTY, Fla., Aug. 28 (UPI) -- A Citrus County, Fla. man could face felony charges after being busted with 11 gopher tortoises.

WFTS-TV reported the as-yet unidentified man and the reptiles were found in the woods of Citrus County.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Officer Tommy Reid found the man and the tortoises in the woods. Reid said, "I don't think anybody would hide tortoises out in the woods if they thought they were not doing anything wrong."}

Working off a tip, Reid said he found dead gopher tortoise shells in the woods, and when he went back the next day, he found others that were still alive.

Soon after, he heard a truck coming his way, and watched what the man was doing with the live ones.

"I saw him go right to the tortoises, start taking them out of the box, put them in the back of his truck, he had four or five that he'd already placed on his truck belly up so they couldn't move around stuff like that."

Once Reid came out of hiding and told the man what he was doing was illegal, he was even more shocked to learn what he was doing with the threatened species: eating them.

FWC officers say the suspect admitted to capturing and eating 15 tortoises.

He was cited for hunting a threatened species and could still face felony charges.

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