Officials to Vandals: Stop Painting Birds, Tortoises

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(CNN) — If you want to paint your nails, furniture, house, whatever — knock yourself out. But stop painting birds and turtles; they don’t need to be prettied-up.

That’s the message from Florida officials, who rescued a painted white ibis bird this week, days after they found turtles and gopher tortoises illegally decorated in hues of blue and red.

“Please keep your paint on the canvas and off of wildlife,” the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission posted on Facebook. “Tortoises and turtles don’t need touch-ups!”

While it may sound harmless, unleashing your inner artist on wildlife could land you in jail.

“White ibis are protected in Florida. Not only is it illegal to paint them, but it is cruel to paint any wildlife,” the commission said.

Not only is the gopher tortoise considered a threatened species protected by state law, painting its shell can have a major effect on its health.

“The paint can hinder their ability to absorb vitamins they need from the sun, cause respiratory problems, allow toxic chemicals into the bloodstream and more,” Florida officials said.

Humans have been meddling with wildlife a lot lately, and it never ends well. In May, park officials euthanized a bison calf after tourists who thought they were rescuing it loaded it into their car at Yellowstone National Park.

Instead, the encounter led to its death.

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