Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Gopher tortoises in the urban City of Lake Worth. Threats: Cars and bikes, curious kids, and golf balls falling from the sky.

The future of this endangered reptile, well away from urban areas, is something we all can agree is necessary in Florida.
The Gopher tortoise (image from Wikipedia).* Another threat to these reptiles is poaching, a serious crime with severe penalties. Also, these tortoises are not ‘pets’ to be kept in the backyard for entertainment.

One reason given why the City’s Park of Commerce (POC) shouldn’t be improved upon, the Neighborhood Road construction and our water/sewer upgrades delayed, is because a Gopher tortoise burrow may be in the vicinity. Another claim is these tortoises can’t be relocated. That is completely false.

An urban environment of which the POC and the City of Lake Worth are partmost reasonable people can agree is not the ideal place for this threatened species of turtles to live. The creature is trapped because of roads and development and has no way of escape. The near-constant interaction with humans is a safety issue. There are nature preserves in Florida specifically for creatures such as the prehistoric Gopher tortoise; one is the spectacular Nokuse Preserve here in Florida.

Finding Gopher tortoise burrows, rescuing the reptile and taking them to a safer and more hospitable location is quite common. Watch this short video of the process:



You can learn more about this reptile at the FWC and find out about the permit process for finding them a new home in a safe place. Let’s do all we can to help these tortoises in our little City of Lake Worth.

*WARNING: Never try to save a Gopher tortoise by throwing it into the water. Turtles can swim. Gopher tortoises can’t! They’ll sink and quickly drown.

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