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December 11, 2009

Reward Offered in Gopher Tortoise Poaching

The Humane Society of the United States and The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for illegally killing 13 gopher tortoises in Indian River County, Fla.

The Case:

According to Indian River County Conservation Lands Manager Beth Powell, 13 tortoise shells were found this week on a quarter-acre lot on 61st Drive on the border of Wabasso Scrub Conservation Area. Gopher tortoises are listed as a threatened species in Florida.

The animals were hit or shot and appear to have been killed sometime during the past year. They likely made up at least one-fourth of the conservation area's population of gopher tortoises. Some of the tortoises killed were about 20 years old.

"The killing of these protected animals is a crime," said Jennifer Hobgood, Florida state director for The HSUS. "Gopher tortoises are long-lived, gentle creatures who face serious threats from habitat loss. The Humane Society of the United States applauds the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for thoroughly investigating this incident."

If caught, the person or persons responsible could face numerous violations up to a $5,000 fine and five years in jail.

Poaching:

Every year, thousands of poachers are arrested nationwide; however, it is estimated that only 1 to 5 percent of poachers are caught. Poachers kill wildlife anytime, anywhere and sometimes do so in particularly cruel ways.

The Investigators:

Anyone with information about this case should contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-3922. 

The HSUS works to stop wildlife abuse and animal cruelty across the country. Visit humanesociety.org/wildlifeabuse for more information.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.

Since 1993 the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust, alone or in partnership with other conservation groups, has participated in the protection of millions of acres of wildlife habitat in 37 states and seven foreign countries. On all properties owned by the Trust or protected by the Trust's conservation easement, both here and abroad, we prohibit recreational and commercial hunting and trapping and restrict logging and development. The Trust's commitment to these principles will never change as we continue to assist caring landowners to make their property permanent, safe homes for wildlife. Join our online community at wildlifelandtrust.org.

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