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Gopher Tortoise

The Gopher Tortoise is a threatened and protected species in the Tampa Bay area. Once it was very numerous but its habitat of upland dry land was also sought after by developers.

The Gopher Tortoise is usually first noticed by its burrow which can be distinguished from an armadillo burrow by the flat bottom and arched top. The armadillo burrow is usually oval in shape without the flat bottom.

Gopher Tortoises do not cause damage and are not aggressive. Usually the only reason to relocate them is because of planned develpoment projects. Relocation is only done with a permit from the FWC and by an authorized agent. The Trapper Guy is not an authorized agent. We can help you find one if needed.

Gopher Tortoises are relocated from areas to be disturbed by structures to another area on site and in some cases off site..

If you have a Gopher Tortoise in your yard the best thing to do is leave it alone. Give it a name and you will have a conversation piece for guests for many years to come!

If you feel it is causing problems then it will be up to the FWC if it can be relocated.



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Gopher Tortoise in the news:

Gopher tortoise may be classified as a threatened species


Published: September 9, 2009

More about the gopher tortoise's habitat
TALLAHASSEE - The gopher tortoise may soon get federal protection as a threatened species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today.

Florida already classifies the gopher tortoise as a threatened, due largely to its loss of habitat. Upon reviewing a petition from wildlife conservation groups, the U.S. wildlife agency said today that it will now investigate whether gopher tortoises in eastern states need federal protection as well. Western-range gopher tortoises already appear on the federal government's list of threatened animals.

With gopher tortoises living in all 67 counties, Florida is the animals' primary home in the southeast. Among their local hangouts: the Egmont Key wildlife refuge, where about 1,800 of the animals reside. The proposed federal protection would apply not only to Florida but to Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina, where the animals also exist.

In practice, federal listing of the animals would not create a load of additional land restrictions or regulations, said Chuck Underwood, a Florida representative of U.S. Fish and Wildlife. It would, however, extend new protections for the tortoise on federal land, requiring U.S. agencies conducting or planning activities in tortoise habitat to consult with the federal wildlife authorities.

Today's announcement reflects the first step forward in a review of the tortoise's status, triggered by a petition received in January 2006 from Save Our Big Scrub, Inc. and Wild South. Because of a lack of funding, the federal wildlife agency initially failed to act on the petition -- prompting the conservation groups to threaten a lawsuit if no "timely response" followed.

"This notice constitutes our 90-day finding on the petition to list the gopher tortoise in the eastern portion of its range," the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service stated in today's Federal Register.

According to the petitioners, urban development within the gopher tortoise's eastern range has increased by 614 percent. Wildlife officials questioned that figure, but agreed that increased development and the destruction of natural pine forests has cost the species' a considerable portion of its habit – about 16 percent between 2003 and 2006.

That followed much a heavier loss of natural pine habitat over the preceding 50 years, the conservation groups claimed. Their petition includes a statement from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission that "it may be inevitable that gopher tortoises will be largely eliminated from private lands in Florida within the next three generations, which would represent a 60-65 percent decline in tortoise habitat. We anticipate similar losses in the other range states."

Underwood said the federal agency will likely come to a decision on classifying the gopher tortoise late in 2009 or early in 2010.

Reporter Catherine Dolinski can be reached at (850) 222-8382


Gopher Tortoise in the Tampa Bay area.

Gopher Tortoise

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Gopher tortoise digging holes in yards in Pinellas Hillsborough Pasco counties.

Tortoise Burrow.




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