Florida Fish and Wildlife wants your feedback on new protections for imperiled gopher tortoise
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is seeking public comment on draft revisions to protections for the gopher tortoise.
The revisions come as demand has surged for relocation sites for gopher tortoises displaced by development. The tortoises are listed in Florida as threatened.
The revisions include new fees encouraging that tortoises be moved to sites with the most protections. But Elise Bennett of the Center for Biological Diversity says it’s not enough.
“Ultimately we are taking tortoises and we are moving them into smaller and smaller areas in the state. There is a policy in the state to have no net loss of tortoises but there isn’t a similar policy for habitat.”
Meanwhile the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering new federal protections for the gopher tortoise, which is found in the same upland habitats developers prefer.
Florida Fish and Wildlife says staff members will consider the public suggestions before presenting the revisions to the commission at a later meeting.