Celebrate ‘Gopher Tortoise Day’ with a tortoise-friendly yard

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Posted April 8, 2022 | By Ocala Gazette Staff

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) announced that April 10 is “Gopher Tortoise Day,” according to an April 6 press release.

Gopher Tortoise Day was adopted in 2016 as a day of appreciation for native tortoises and to encourage people to help protect the threatened species, said the release.

“The Gopher Tortoise Friendly Yard Recognition Program helps recognize and encourage landowners to enhance habitats and help protect gopher tortoises and their burrows,” said FWC’s Gopher Tortoise Program Coordinator Katherine Richardson. “These kinds of efforts also benefit many other species that use tortoise burrows for shelter, foraging and nesting habitat.”

Any Florida property owner can take steps to make their land gopher tortoise friendly:

  • Report sightings of gopher tortoises or notify the FWC of a sick, injured or dead tortoise
  • Consider volunteering with the FWC on gopher tortoise conservation efforts
  • If you see a gopher tortoise crossing a road and it is safe for you to do so, you may pick it up and place it in a safe location along the roadside in the direction it was heading (never put tortoises in water, as gopher tortoises can’t swim like turtles can)
  • Remember that gopher tortoises are a protected species (it is illegal to harm a gopher tortoise, its eggs or its burrow, to relocate without a permit or to possess a tortoise, its eggs or any parts of a tortoise)

Spring is an active time for gopher tortoises and many native wildlife species. Learn more by visiting MyFWC.com/News and clicking on “Spring Wildlife News.”

Find out more about Florida’s only native tortoise at MyFWC.com/GopherTortoise. To celebrate, visit GopherTortoiseDayFL.com for information and activities.

Report wildlife violations to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at (888) 404-FWCC (3922).