The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission says someone is painting the shells of gopher tortoises. Not only is it illegal, it is dangerous for the tortoises.
FWC posted several photos of tortoises painted red and blue on Facebook and also posted a photo of what the turtle looked like after the paint was removed.
"Gopher tortoises and freshwater turtles get vitamins they need to grow and stay healthy by absorbing the sun’s UV rays through their shells – paint or nail polish can block these needed rays," said the FWC on its Facebook page.
It takes many cleaning sessions to remove the paint, and sometimes a tortoise even needs to be sedated to effectively remove it.
As seen in the photos, some of the paint remains, even after the cleanings.
The paint fumes can also cause respiratory problems, and the chemicals from the paint can be absorbed into the tortoise's bloodstream.
FWC says the paint can also make the tortoise more easily identified by predators.
Officials say if you see a painted tortoise, report it to the FWC regional office near you or text Tip@myfwc.com from your cell phone.