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January 13, 2014

Illegally Captured Gopher Tortoises Rescued; Transported to Safety

Florida gopher tortoise being relocated from housing development site to Nokuse Plantation

Julie Busch Branaman/for The HSUS

Two threatened gopher tortoises were illegally taken from the wild by tourists who picked up the animals while vacationing in Florida in October and took the animals home to Arkansas. Although the tourists were concerned about the tortoises’ health when they removed them from their natural habitat, these animals are a threatened species and it is illegal to keep them in private possession.

The Humane Society of the United States has recently taken possession of the tortoises after being contacted by a concerned individual. Because it is difficult to pinpoint the animals’ exact origin and because they were exposed to other animals and potential diseases during captivity, regulations prohibit their return to the wild.

Please help us save gopher tortoises »

The HSUS teamed up with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and identified Aiken Gopher Tortoise Heritage Preserve, a 1,700 acre gopher tortoise restoration facility managed by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources that will serve as the tortoises’ new home.

The tourists now realize that wild animals belong in the wild. The HSUS reminds people that in addition to being oftentimes illegal, removing wild animals from their native habitat is never a good idea. It jeopardizes the animal’s health and welfare and can put the safety of humans and other animals at risk. 

Your donation supports The HSUS's work to save threatened gopher tortoises—please give today.

Media Contact: Naseem Amini, 301-548-7793, namini@humanesociety.org

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