Friday, 5 September 2014 | MYT 5:09 AM

Tortoise serial killer confesses to eating his victims

Cold-blooded tortoise killer decimates 15 endangered gopher tortoises and was planning to kill 11 more.

Wildlife authorities in the US state of Florida have arrested a man who killed and ate 15 gopher tortoises and was planning to slaughter 11 more of the threatened reptiles, a spokeswoman said on Aug 28.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) said a tip-off led an officer to the woods in Citrus County on Florida’s west coast where he found tyre tracks and shells dumped on the ground. Returning the next day, he found a container holding 11 live gopher tortoises.

“He hid himself and waited, figuring the subject would return that afternoon,” the FWC says in a statement, adding that when the man came back, he admitted to a feasting spree of the threatened species.

Murdered: The gopher tortoise, a keystone species in the Florida wilderness whose numbers have dipped because of human interference and loss of habitat, became the target of one man's appetite. 

Katie Purcell, a spokeswoman for the FWC’s law enforcement division, says prosecutors are preparing appropriate charges. The 11 tortoises were set free.

The officer involved, Thomas Reid, told a local TV station WFTS Tampa Bay that the man knew what he was doing was a crime. “I don’t think anyone would hide tortoises out in the woods if they didn’t think they were doing anything wrong,” says Reid.

Florida designates gopher tortoises as a threatened species, meaning it is illegal even to possess one, let alone eat them. – Reuters

Tags / Keywords: Lifestyle , Features , Animal , Wildlife , gopher tortoise , Florida , US , threatened species , poaching , poacher , arrest


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