The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) invites you to celebrate Gopher Tortoise Day by getting involved in conservation efforts with our state’s only native tortoise, a state-listed Threatened Species. Gopher Tortoise Day is on April 10 but you can also celebrate year-round.
Florida residents play an important part in conserving gopher tortoises, which are often found living near people in suburban, agricultural and other developed areas. When people get involved in gopher tortoise conservation, it helps ensure tortoises, and the over 350 species tortoises provide shelter for in their burrows, will continue to be found throughout the state in the future. Residents can get involved with conservation of gopher tortoises in several ways:
- If a tortoise appears healthy and is not in immediate danger, leaving the tortoise alone is usually the best option. 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.
- Consider making your home and neighborhood gopher tortoise friendly by planting gopher tortoise friendly plants, creating a Gopher Tortoise Friendly Yard or, where appropriate, placing tortoise road crossing signs.
- Learn more about living alongside tortoises at the FWC’s Gopher Tortoise Program Education Corner and Education Resources Page.
- Consider volunteering with the FWC on gopher tortoise conservation efforts.
- Plan a Gopher Tortoise Day event, such as an educational activity, a local proclamation signing, a volunteer day or a wildlife appreciation festival.
- Report sightings of gopher tortoises and their burrows or notify the FWC of a sick, injured or dead tortoise.
- 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. Report wildlife violations to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).
Gopher Tortoise Day was adopted in 2016 by the Gopher Tortoise Council to increase appreciation and conservation support for this iconic Florida species. The FWC and partners celebrate this day each year. You can find events and proclamations near you by visiting GopherTortoiseDayFL.com and by using #GopherTortoiseDay on social media and internet searches.
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.