March featured a powerpoint,
scripted presentation that was developed by the Gopher Tortoise
Council and made available to any educator that was interested.
I obtained a copy of the entire binder full of information that
included just about every aspect of the gopher tortoise that the
layman would ever want to know. This also included the slide presentation.
For those of you new to Florida, or the south, gopher tortoises,
Gopherus polyphemus, is a protected species that is losing ground
to rapid development of prime habitat for the tortoises. There are
several choices that can be made by the developer. These include
ignoring the law and trying to get away with killing tortoises while
in the process of building. Several have been caught and fined heavily.
Of course, this still does not change the fact that the tortoises
died. Other choices are to pay to essentially "kill" a
specified number of tortoises while building. Proceeds go to purchase
land elsewhere to have other tortoises relocated to. The other choice
is to pay someone to relocate the tortoises.
There is much debate as to the
direction Florida should go regarding protecting these tortoises,
which are known as a "keystone" species because they provide
the foundation of much of the upland sandhills habitat. Their burrows
provide homes to about 300 documented species of animals, mostly
Gopher tortoises are ILLEGAL
to catch or keep incaptivity without a permit. Any tortoises that
are found on the side of the road should be moved to the side, BUT
REMAIN IN THE SAME AREA!!!!! Upper Respiratory Tract Disease is
known to occur in this species and every effort is being made to
reduce the number of populations that are infected.
For MUCH more information on
gopher tortoises, start with the Gopher
Tortoise Council. I also maintain 6 gopher tortoises at Sandalwood