Saturday, May 28, 2016

Could all the focus on Gopher tortoises in John Prince Park be putting them at more risk from poachers and hunters?

Every now and then have a little fun and re-post this about the Gopher tortoises in John Prince Park: "A Gopher tortoise in John Prince Park—Trying to avoid cars, bike trails, curious children all over the place, and golf balls dropping from the sky all the time". Really now, would you want to be a slow-moving tortoise with such a high concentration of risks and challenges each and every day like a drive from a 9-iron or a curious kid on a field trip?

There is a very tiny group in Lake Worth and they are making a lot of noise in opposition to the Braves building a Spring Training facility in the park. One of their top PR tools is promoting the high number of Gopher tortoises in John Prince Park. Could that constant drumbeat about the number of tortoises have unintended consequences? Like getting the attention of poachers, hunters, and even the homeless looking for an easy meal?

There are many examples of poaching tortoises and here is just one, "Reward Offered in Gopher Tortoise Poaching":

"The Humane Society of the United States and The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for illegally killing 13 gopher tortoises in Indian River County, Fla.
The Case: 
     According to Indian River County Conservation Lands Manager Beth Powell, 13 tortoise shells were found this week on a quarter-acre lot on 61st Drive on the border of Wabasso Scrub Conservation Area. Gopher tortoises are listed as a threatened species in Florida.
     The animals were hit or shot and appear to have been killed sometime during the past year. They likely made up at least one-fourth of the conservation area's population of gopher tortoises. Some of the tortoises killed were about 20 years old."