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Posted: May 16, 2018

Tortoise covered in red paint survives; man charged with dumping paint into burrow

Man Charged in Tortoise Covered in Red Paint, Cement

By Steve Barrett, WFTV.com

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. —

Florida wildlife investigators have charged a man in connection with an animal abuse case in which a tortoise was found covered in red paint. 

>> Read more trending news 

They said Edwin Escalera, who works with a paint company, dumped paint down the habitat of a threatened tortoise  species.

When the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission investigated the case, an officer found a hole filled with red paint. 

The discovery was made at a small commercial business park where a company called Ram Striping leases warehouse space and keeps equipment.

Investigators said the paint on the tortoise, named Raphael, is the same paint they found around his burrow and the same paint that Ram Striping uses on pavement.

>> Related: Tortoise covered with paint, concrete still recovering

Investigators believe Escalera disposed of the paint by dumping it in the hole. 

Several days later, a couple driving on County Road 455 spotted the tortoise crossing the road and took it to an animal sanctuary for help.

Experts said the paint could have affected the tortoise in many ways, including disrupting his heat regulation and causing poisons to leach into his body, as well as destroying his natural camouflage protection.

Escalera, who said he didn't know the gopher tortoise was in the hole, was charged with littering and with injuring the endangered gopher tortoise. 

Charges were filed through the state attorney's office, so an arrest was not immediately made. The company declined to comment. 

>> Related: FWC saves gopher tortoise found covered in blue paint

Workers at the animal sanctuary were able to remove the paint from Raphael and nurse him back to good health. He was released back into the wild. 

If convicted, Escalera faces up to $600 in fines and up to 60 days in jail.


Related

Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

Tortoise covered in red paint survives; man charged with dumping paint into burrow

Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

Tortoise covered in red paint survives; man charged with dumping paint into burrow

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL - DECEMBER 07: A Gopher Tortoise crawls near the Space Shuttle Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center December 7, 2007 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. NASA continues to evaluate sensor issues. Atlantis is re-scheduled to launch tomorrow December 8, 2007 for a mission to the International Space Station. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images)

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