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A Florida man caught pulling gopher tortoises out of holes in a state park told deputies he was planning to eat them, officials said.
Deputies responded to Seabranch Preserve State Park in Stuart Sunday night after receiving a call of a “man down,” Martin County Sheriff’s Office officials said.
The deputies found 28-year-old Robert Lane, who had taken a male and a female gopher tortoise from their hole and was searching for others, authorities said.
Lane admitted to taking the tortoises out of their hole and said he was going to take them home and consume them, officials said.
The gopher tortoise is listed as threatened in Florida and are protected under state law, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Lane faces charges related to poaching on state property. The tortoises were safely returned to their hole.