Man confesses to capturing 2 gopher tortoises so he could eat them, deputies say

MCSO: Suspect found searching for tortoises at Seabranch Preserve State Park

(Martin County Sheriff's Office)

STUART, Fla. – A 28-year-old man was arrested over the weekend by Martin County Sheriff's Office deputies for capturing two gopher tortoises at a state park with the intention of eating them, authorities said.

Deputies said they were called Sunday night to Seabranch Preserve State Park in Stuart regarding a man on the ground.

Authorities said they found Robert Lane, who had just pulled two endangered gopher tortoises from their hole and was on the ground searching for others.

Lane was in possession of a male and a female tortoise when he was found by deputies, authorities said.

Deputies said Lane confessed to pulling the tortoises from their hole and said that he was planning to take them home to cook them.


Lane was taken into custody on charges related to poaching on state property.

Deputies said they returned the tortoises to the hole from where Lane had pulled them. 

Gopher tortoises are a threatened species and are federally protected.

The case has been turned over to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

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