LAKE COUNTY, Fla. -- A 37-year-old man has been arrested in connection to the discovery of a gopher tortoise that had been spray-painted red last month.
- Man charged in connection to painted-tortoise case
- Raphael was found spray-painted red last month
- Edwin Escalera is facing multiple charges, FWC says
- RELATED: Pictures: FWC looking for info on spray-painted tortoise
Edwin Escalera, of Apopka, is facing multiple charges, including illegal possession of a gopher tortoise and littering, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Greg Workman said Wednesday.
The gopher tortoise, subsequently named Raphael, was found off County Road 455 south of Montverde, Florida and reported to FWC on April 17. It was covered in red paint, and concrete was on its limbs and the top of its shell.
According to an FWC incident report, Escalera, who worked at a striping business near the gopher tortoise hole, told an investigating wildlife officer that he was working Saturday, April 14, and was in a hurry, so he disposed of red paint down the hole.
Gopher tortoises are state-listed as threatened and are a protected species. It's illegal and harmful to a gopher tortoise to apply man-made substances, such as paint or concrete, to any part of their body or shell.
FWC urges the public to call its Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922 anyone suspects a wildlife violation.