Gopher tortoise poaching suspect admits he eats threatened species

28-year-old man caught with 2 tortoises
Posted at 4:43 AM, May 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-21 11:24:54-04

The Martin County Sheriff's Office said a 28-year-old man faces poaching charges after deputies said he was caught with two gopher tortoises at a state park.

Deputies responded Sunday evening to Seabranch Preserve State Park and found the suspect, identified as Robert Lane, on the ground.

The sheriff's office said Lane pulled two endangered tortoises from their hole and was on the ground searching for others.

Lane was in possession of a male and a female gopher tortoise when deputies caught him.

They said he admitted to deputies that he pulled both of the tortoises from their hole and was going to take them home where he had planned to eat them.

Gopher tortoises are a threatened species and federally protected.

The case was turned over to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Lane faces charges related to poaching on state property.

Deputies said they found the hole where Lane pulled the tortoises from and returned both reptiles to the location.