A deputy in a North Florida county had quite the encounter with a slow moving native along a highway this weekend – a giant gopher tortoise that refused to clear the road when asked.
The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office says the incident took place Friday along a parkway near St. Augustine when Deputy L. Fontenot called in a “Florida native” for impeding the flow of traffic, adding that the “suspect” refused to move and continued its morning walk.
The tortoise, identified as “Gopherus Genus”, was detained and – after a heartfelt conversation between the two – was released by Fontenot with a warning.
"Gopherus was cooperative during the remainder of my encounter with him, so I chose to use discretion and let him go,” he wrote in a post on the department’s Facebook page.
The duo did manage to snap a selfie together before the tortoise was released back to a nearby forest area.
Gopher tortoises are the only ones found east of the Mississippi River and are listed as threatened in the state of Florida, which protects them under state law according to the state’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. They can life as long as 60 years according to the department.