VIDEO: FWC To Celebrate Gopher Tortoise Day April 10, First Time In Florida

By  //  April 9, 2016

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fwc releases florida gopher tortoise app

ABOVE VIDEO: On Sunday, April 10, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and its partners will celebrate Gopher Tortoise Day for the first time in Florida.

On Sunday, April 10, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and its partners will celebrate Gopher Tortoise Day for the first time in Florida.

Go to GopherTortoiseDayFL.com for ideas on being a part of this day and other gopher tortoise-related events and activities all year long.

Gopher tortoises live in every county of Florida and are known for their extraordinary digging skills. These gray or brown tortoises use shovel-like forearms to carve out burrows averaging several yards deep and 5 yards long. Their burrows give shelter to hundreds of other native species.

Gopher Tortoise Day is a newly-launched effort to highlight the importance of conserving this state-threatened species, whose presence goes back 60 million years.

The FWC is encouraging the public to be aware of the gopher tortoise as a Florida keystone species and learn how their actions can strengthen recovery efforts.

On Sunday, April 10, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and its partners will celebrate Gopher Tortoise Day for the first time in Florida. (FWC image)

On Sunday, April 10, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and its partners will celebrate Gopher Tortoise Day for the first time in Florida. (FWC image)

From now through May, for example, the gopher tortoise is increasingly active, leaving its underground burrow in search of spring greenery to eat and, in many cases, a mate.

People can help by watching out for a tortoise crossing the highway and, if it’s safe for you to do so, picking it up and placing it on the roadside in the direction it was heading. Just don’t put this terrestrial animal in the water.

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Local governments and private landowners, including farmers, foresters and ranchers, have worked with the FWC to help conserve and restore gopher tortoise habitat. The tortoise needs sandy, sunny habitats with an open tree canopy, such as longleaf pine forests, to thrive and survive.

“Many Floridians and visitors to the state are knowledgeable about gopher tortoises and willing to take actions to help them. We’re excited about Gopher Tortoise Day as a way to get more people involved,” said Deborah Burr, who leads the FWC’s gopher tortoise management program.

“Indeed the success we have had so far in conserving Florida’s gopher tortoise population and its habitats is closely tied to the enthusiastic support and participation of the public.”

Individuals also have helped by using the ”Florida Gopher Tortoise” app, which gives people a chance to report gopher tortoise sightings while learning about the species.

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