This just showed up in my news topics
Painting tortoises…really…bad enough people were messing with the manatees.
Not gonna …just flip out man
But " whos been painting my roses red!?"
This is a more common problem than you think. I have rescued several gopher tortoises in southern Georgia (and a couple of box turtles) that were painted. Some had been hit by cars as well. I had to send a nasty-gram campus wide email a couple of years ago because not only did someone paint a gopher tortoise that had been struck by a car, but then they transported it off site to the freshmen dorm where it was found by one of my students. Following rehabilitation we must put the tortoise back in its home range so without knowing where it was found the tortoise was doomed.
Thankfully, I received a few fearful anonymous messages and learned the home range of the tortoise. Dr. Terry Norton and his staff at the Jekyll Island Sea Turtle Center are who rehabilitate a lot of these animals, so that’s where I took the tortoise. Unfortunately the tortoise didn’t make it.
If you find a painted tortoise or turtle:
- Immediately note and write down the location. Assess the chelonian for injuries. Contain the animal.
- Immediately call your state wildlife agency to notify them of the issue. You cannot transport a tortoise without permission/permits. Sometimes they will send an expert out to retrieve the animal (such as myself).
- If you are asked to transport the animal, take the animal directly to the place they told you. Remember, you are transporting protected wildlife with oral permission, if you get pulled over you could be fined if the officer doesn’t believe you.
- Be sure to give the location information to whoever takes the animal from you so it may be eventually released.
Also, please don’t move tortoises around for a few reasons. First, they have well defined home ranges and will wander until they die if you release them elsewhere. This is a major issue with relocation programs (we have to fence them in for months until they learn the new spot is home). Also, many gopher tortoise populations in south Georgia have a very contagious respiratory infection, so we can’t use those tortoises at all for relocation programs due to disease spread.