'Senseless thing to do to any animal': FWC investigates shooting of protected gopher tortoise

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) said its officers are searching for the person who shot a gopher tortoise at least two times.  Someone found the injured tortoise in a St. Cloud yard and was able to get it medical assistance.

Photographs sent to FOX 35 News show a bloody bandage on the side of the 6-pound, 12-inch gopher tortoise, and an X-ray reveals four different bullet fragments.

"To find out it was shot multiple times, that’s horrible. It’s a senseless thing to do to any animal," said Kristyn Hulett who rendered aid to the tortoise. "I take care of a 92-year-old full-time every day. I have medical stuff here."

But when her medical supplies didn’t work, she reached out to a wildlife rehabilitator for help.

"The tortoise is not doing very well. He was shot at the front portion of the body and the bullet had went through the lung and also into some other organs," explained Kim Titterington of Swamp Girl Adventures Reptile Rehabilitation.

She said she gave the tortoise pain medicine, so it would stay still and heal. 

"There are four fragments that we can visually see inside the body. If these are lead pellets then we could be dealing with lead toxicity."

She’s not sure if he’ll make it. 

"Very upset, unfortunately, I see this kind of stuff a lot, so it doesn’t surprise me."

Hulett said, "I do hope the turtle pulls through. I like animals. I couldn’t let it go without help."

FWC said gopher tortoises are a protected species. Anyone who’s found guilty of injuring or killing them, could spend five years in prison and receive a $5,000 fine. If you know who did this, call 888-404-FWCC (3922) or send a text to Tip@MyFWC.com.