Gopher Tortoises More Active in the Spring
It’s illegal to disturb or harm gopher tortoises, their burrows or their eggs, but you can help a gopher tortoise cross a road, according to Florida wildlife officials.
TAMPA BAY – Spring days are a good time to spot a gopher tortoise, as Florida’s only native tortoise becomes more active, foraging for food and searching for a mate.
If you see gopher tortoises or their half-moon shaped burrow entrances, it is best to leave them alone, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. It’s illegal to disturb or harm gopher tortoises, their burrows or their eggs. You can help a gopher tortoise cross a road, by picking it up and placing it on the roadside in the direction it was heading. But only do this if it is safe for you to do so, and don’t put the tortoise in your vehicle! Remember, too, the tortoise is a land animal, so never try to put it into water.
On April 10, many Floridians plan to celebrate Florida Gopher Tortoise Day and support conservation of this threatened species.
The FWC has encouraged Floridians to get involved in Gopher Tortoise Day since 2016 and share awareness of how people can help this species that is found in every county of the state. Anyone, or any group like a neighborhood association, can celebrate Gopher Tortoise Day and help conserve the tortoise. Go to GopherTortoiseDayFL.com for information and activities for April 10 and all year long.
“If you’re a fan of the gopher tortoise, help us spread the word on conserving this threatened species, whose burrows are home to hundreds of animals, including the eastern indigo snake, gopher frog and Florida mouse,” said Deborah Burr, who heads the FWC’s gopher tortoise management program.
On the Gopher Tortoise Day website, you can access many resources, including a resolution template for your community to adopt Gopher Tortoise Day, A guide to living with gopher tortoises, gopher tortoises and road safety and ideas for kids’ activities, including Build a Burrow instructions and the Gopher Tortoise Field Trip Guide.
You also can help by using the Florida Gopher Tortoise smartphone app to report gopher tortoise sightings and learn about the species.
Gopher tortoises need plenty of sandy, sunny habitats with an open tree canopy to thrive and survive. The FWC’s wildlife management areas provide habitat for gopher tortoises. Local governments, military installations and private landowners, including farmers, foresters and ranchers, also work with the FWC to help conserve and restore gopher tortoise habitat.
Go to MyFWC.com to find a Wildlife Management Area where you might spot gopher tortoises and their burrows.
More information on gopher tortoises is at MyFWC.com.
Photos courtesy of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission | FWC | Gopher Tortoise | Wildlife | Tampabay News
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