The gopher tortoise, found only in the Southeastern United States, is in great danger in Florida.  Florida has classified the gopher tortoise as a “species of great concern,” one step away from being endangered, yet the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) allows developers to obtain permits to incidentally kill gopher tortoises during the course of the development of land.  Upon hearing the bulldozers, gopher tortoises try to escape them by moving into their burrows, where they subsequently become trapped by the land development and die. 

According to the FFWCC’s permit records, approximately 68,000 gopher tortoises have died in Florida over the past 12 years as a result of development of new homes, businesses and roads.  Florida offers developers two options to minimize the impact development has on gopher tortoises and their habitats:  developers can obtain a permit for “incidental taking” (i.e. killing the gopher tortoises) or may obtain a permit to relocate the tortoises. 

The problem with the “incidental taking” permit needs no explanation.  Unfortunately, the relocation permit also has many problems that have yet to be resolved.  The relocation is greatly mismanaged and lacking in standards of care and many relocated gopher tortoises die as a result. 
Please contact Florida Governor Jeb Bush and urge him to prohibit the issuance of “incidental taking” permits.  Furthermore, politely let Governor Bush know that Florida needs to refashion the procedure used to relocate the gopher tortoises to ensure proper planning, care and handling is used to move these animals to safe and permanent habitats.  For more information,

Governor Jeb Bush
Executive Office of the Governor
400 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0001