Protect the Generous Gopher Tortoise

Sign of nearby Gopher Tortoises, Okefenokee Swamp, 2022
And here she is.

We saw her on the last walk of the last day of our five week trip around south Georgia/north Florida. The perfect ending to our trip.

FAST FACTS

about gopher tortoises

  • THEY BURROW. Gopher tortoises generously share their burrows with several hundred different animal species. This makes the the gopher tortoise a keystone species and important to protect. (Source: Wikipedia)
  • THEY’RE FAST (A big surprise.)
  • THEY’RE THREATENED. The main issue is habitat loss. Urbanization continues to destroy long leaf forests. (Now I understand why Florida state parks are making such a concerted effort to re-establish the long leaf pines.)
Long leaf pines forest, Withlacoochee State Forest, 2022
  • THEY’RE EXPENSIVE. In Florida, developers have to pay $1000 -$2000 to relocate a gopher tortoise if their land is scheduled for development. In 2020, 17,000 gopher tortoises were moved. (Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 12/16/21)

And most importantly…

A tortoise is a turtle, but a turtle is not a tortoise.

Source: Park Ranger at Timocuan Preserve/Fort Caroline near Jacksonville, FL)

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