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Published: Monday, June 24, 2019 @ 11:05 AM
ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — Deputies routinely pull over speeders. However, a Florida deputy had the opposite issue when traffic was slowed down by a gopher tortoise taking a leisurely stroll along the highway.
Deputy Leonard Fontenot "conducted a traffic stop" on the animal for "impeding traffic flow," officials with the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office wrote in a Facebook post published Friday. The result was a selfie with Fontenot and the tortoise.
The tortoise was trudging along the Nocatee Parkway south of Jacksonville when Fontenot approached the "Gopherus Genus, exact age unknown."
According to the Facebook post, the tortoise "failed to clear the roadway" when asked to do so by Fontentot. But after a "heartfelt conversation" about risks of walking on a roadway while vehicles sped past, the tortoise was released.
"Gopherus was cooperative during the remainder of my encounter with him, so I chose to use discretion and let him go with a warning," Fontenot was quoted in the Facebook post. "In fact, our interaction was so positive, we posed for a selfie together!"
Gopher tortoises, actually known as Gopherus polyphemus, and their burrows are protected by state law, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The animal can live between 40 to 60 years in the wild and more than 90 years in captivity, according to the commission's website.