A gopher tortoise covered with red spray paint and concrete was discovered near Montverde, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Wednesday in a Facebook post.
A pair of good Samaritans spotted the tortoise, which had concrete on its shell and limbs, in the middle of County Road 455 and took it to a wildlife rehabilitation center, officials said.
"It is both illegal and very harmful to the health of a gopher tortoise to apply man-made substances, such as paint or concrete, to any part of their body or shell," the post said.
"Removing paint and concrete from gopher tortoises without harming it is a challenging process that causes the animal stress," the post said. "Applying substances like paint on tortoises can inhibit their ability to absorb vitamins from the sun’s UV rays through their shells, has the potential to cause respiratory problems and can lead to harmful chemicals being absorbed into their bloodstream."
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call FWC at 888-404-3922 or email the agency at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tipsters may remain anonymous and could be eligible for a reward.