Do I have gopher tortoises on my property?
To determine if you have gopher tortoises on your property, you must conduct a tortoise survey or hire an Authorized Gopher Tortoise Agent to conduct a survey for you. Authorized Gopher Tortoise Agents have experience in tortoise surveying, trapping, and relocation techniques and are permitted by the FWC.
Gopher tortoise surveys are conducted by walking along transects and searching for gopher tortoise burrows (burrow entrances). Transects are simply straight, parallel lines, spaced no more than 33 feet apart and should be closer together in densely vegetated areas. These transects must cover all areas inside the development area and within 25 feet of planned development activities (Figure 1). Small properties with low-growing vegetation can be surveyed quickly and easily (e.g., residential lots). Larger properties or those with thick vegetation obscuring the view of burrows can be more challenging, and may take days to complete. For these properties, the use of an Authorized Gopher Tortoise Agent is recommended.
100% burrow surveys must be conducted over the entire development footprint and submitted as part of the permit application (rather than after issuance of the permit). Survey maps are recommended but not required.
Figure 1. Example transects (arrows denote direction traveled).
You can click on the image for a larger view.