A tiny gopher tortoise found itself in the hands of the Bradenton, Florida, Police Department on September 26 after officers on duty discovered the pint-sized reptile seeking refuge at the Community Oriented Policing House.
The officers subsequently embarked on what they humorously dubbed a “slow-speed pursuit” to apprehend the creature.
A Facebook post from the department described the situation: “The wee one seemed a bit shell-shocked and a tad out of place.”
Undeterred by the unusual nature of the case, two officers managed to capture the tortoise without incident.
Concerned for its well-being, police promptly arranged for the tortoise to receive a welfare check at Wildlife, Inc., a wildlife rescue service.
But first, they decided to bestow a name upon their newfound friend.
“Also, because it’s Tuesday, the officers decided the tortoise should be named — wait for it — Taco. Take care, Taco!” the department wrote.
It was revealed that the gopher tortoise had endured a bit of hardship before the officers rescued him, with the post mentioning that Taco “had been chewed a little.”
Thankfully, Wildlife, Inc. has taken responsibility for nursing Taco back to health and has ensured that the animal is in “tip-top shape.”
The handling and relocation of gopher tortoises are regulated by law. In Florida, it is illegal to move a gopher tortoise unless you possess a valid permit issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
The FWC outlines specific guidelines for interacting with the creatures, which are endangered and federally protected.
If a tortoise is encountered crossing a busy road, individuals are permitted to move it across the road in the same direction it was headed, provided it is safe to do so, according to the FWC.
However, it is strictly prohibited to relocate a tortoise to another location or place it in a vehicle, as this constitutes illegal possession.
Additionally, many routine activities related to residential lawn and landscape maintenance do not require a permit, as long as they do not pose a threat to gopher tortoise burrows or the tortoises themselves.