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Gopher Tortoise Review Procedures
Natural ResourcesProtected Species > Gopher Tortoise Review Procedures
 
In the past, landowners with Gopher Tortoise (GT) burrows on their properties have had the option of obtaining permits to entomb tortoises within their burrows. This resulted in the starvation and suffocation of not only the GT, but many other listed species that were present in the burrow. Due to significant habitat loss and degradation, the GT population is declining throughout Florida. Because of this, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has upgraded the status of the GT to ‘Threatened’. Thus the FWC has omitted the practice of entombing tortoises from the available options. In the instance that you have been informed that you have gopher tortoise burrow/s on your property, you have 2 options:
  1. You can avoid the burrow/s with a 25 foot circumference at all times, which includes all machinery and vehicles that will be entering the site.
You must provide Charlotte County staff a site plan documenting:
 
all tortoise burrow/s that will be avoided with a minimum 25 foot buffer
how the burrow will be protected during all construction activities
the original Tree Site Plan modified (if applicable) so that no activity occurs within this buffer
  1. If the tortoise burrow cannot be avoided, then a relocation permit from the FWC must be applied for and the approved permit must be provided to Charlotte County staff.
Start the relocation of the tortoise/s following all FWC protocol (provided by staff at the request of the applicant). This protocol may involve finding an appropriate recipient site, as approved by the FWC. If the shovel/backhoe method will be used, qualified personnel (as determined in FWC management plan) must be used so as to avoid injuring/killing the tortoise/s.
Once the tortoise/s have been successfully relocated on/off site (depending upon permit specifications), staff must be informed either verbally or by letter that the tortoise/s have been successfully relocated and by what method they were relocated (i.e. bucket trapped, shovel or backhoe excavation). A site plan must be provided to staff showing the area where the tortoise/s will be relocated to and how that area will remain protected at all times. If the original tree site plan provided shows trees being removed within this protection area, the tree site plan must be modified accordingly so that no activity will take place within the tortoise protection area.** 
**Staff conducts random inspections to verify successful gopher tortoise relocations.
 
For any additional questions or concerns, you may contact Charlotte County's Environmental Specialist (see below) or go to The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website for more information.
 
Eric Sievers
Gopher Tortoise Conservation Biologist
Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission
Southwest Regional Office
Phone: 863.648.3200
Eric.Sievers@MyFWC.com
 
Susie Derheimer
Environmental Specialist
Charlotte County Community Development
18400 Murdock Circle
Port Charlotte, FL 33948-1094
Phone: 941.743.1290
Fax: 941.743.1598
Suzanne.Derheimer@CharlotteCountyFL.gov
 
For additional information, contact Charlotte County Natural Resources Division at 941.613.3220 or CommunityServices@CharlotteCountyFL.gov.
 
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