Dunnedin, Fla.(970)- Deputies are requesting help from the public in identifying the person responsible for running over a protected Gopher Tortoise.
On Saturday, August 11, at about 3:20 p.m., the sheriff's office received a call for service from a citizen who observed a badly injured Gopher tortoise at the bus circle of San Jose Elementary School at 1670 San Helen Drive,in Dunedin. Deputies arrived on scene and summoned the assistance Owls Nest Sanctuary for Life.
Deputies reviewed the surveillance camera located at the school. The video depicted an unidentified driver of a light colored possibly newer model Acura TSX entering the bus circle of San Jose Elementary School. The driver of the vehicle slows down, and then comes to a complete stop as the tortoise crosses the roadway. The driver waits for the tortoise to crawl in front of the vehicle, and then accelerates, running over the animal with the vehicle’s left front tire. The vehicle then continues through the bus circle and exits southbound onto San Helen Drive.
The vehicle is possibly light blue or silver in color, and is equipped with a sunroof and 5 spoke wheels.
In Florida the Gopher tortoise is listed as threatened a species. Both the tortoise and its burrow are protected under state law.
Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact Sergeant Kristofer Wendel of the Patrol Operations Unit 727-582-6200. To remain anonymous and be eligible for a reward, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS
Video credit: Pinellas County Sheriff's Office