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Gopher Tortoise Sign Information

Gopher tortoise in palmettos

Gopher tortoises and their burrows are often located in natural areas, parks, and neighborhoods near people. In most situations, signs are not necessary to protect the gopher tortoise or burrow in this area and can sometimes create more problems for the tortoises or environment. Due to this, FWC does not distribute gopher tortoise signs. However, several local governments, conservation organizations, and local businesses have created informational signage to place in areas to help prevent intentional and unintentional harm to gopher tortoises and their burrows. If you or your organization would like to develop signage for areas occupied by gopher tortoises and their burrows, please consider the following guidelines to ensure accuracy and a positive outcome for the tortoises.

Useful Tips

  • Make sure that you have legal authority to install a sign if it is not on your land. Installing signs on someone else’s property may be considered trespassing.
  • Do not place a sign directly on top of or next to a burrow or burrow apron. This keeps the burrows safe from individuals with harmful intentions and prevents obstacles for the tortoise to access its burrow.
  • Ensure that the information on the sign is correct.
  • Use simple and consistent language. Keep the information on your signage concise to make it easy for others to understand.
  • Make sure the wording on your gopher tortoise signage is easy to read by using large font size and creating a good color contrast between the text and the background.
  • Replace signs that become damaged, are no longer legible, or that display outdated information.
  • Show what a gopher tortoise looks like. Including an image of a gopher tortoise or burrow is helpful to those unfamiliar with the species and decreases the chance of an unintentionally harmful interaction between a human and a gopher tortoise. Photos from FWC’s Flickr gallery are allowed to be used for non-commercial purposes. 
  • Make sure signage is constructed from durable and sustainable materials. Signage constructed from weak materials such as paper and/or not securely inserted into the ground cannot withstand Florida weather conditions and could create litter.
  • Place “Gopher Tortoise Crossing” signs near roadways. This promotes human and gopher tortoise safety by warning drivers to drive carefully in areas that are frequented by gopher tortoises. Installation of gopher tortoise crossing signs along roadway signs requires approval from the county, city or state.
An improperly placed sign

This is an example of an improperly placed sign near a burrow or burrow apron that may jeopardize the gopher tortoise’s safety or block access to its burrow.

FWC Gopher Tortoise Flickr Gallery

Photos from FWC’s Flickr gallery are allowed to be used for non-commercial purposes. 

Sample Sign Text

  • Species name: Gopherus polyphemus
  • Gopher tortoise burrows provide shelter to more than 350 other species and play an important role in ecosystems
  • Gopher tortoises are protected under Florida law, specifically by Florida Statute (F.S.) 379.411 and 68A-27 Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.)
  • A violation of 379.411 F.S. is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years imprisonment (F.S. 775.082) and/or a $5,000 fine (F.S. 775.083)
  • Depending on the specific threats to gopher tortoises in your area, it may be beneficial to reference one or more of the following laws on your signage:
    • It is unlawful to take or transport a gopher tortoise or its eggs from its habitat (68A-4, F.A.C.)
    • No person shall possess a gopher tortoise unless authorized by permit (68A-25, F.A.C.)
    • It is unlawful to molest, damage, or take a gopher tortoise or its burrow except as authorized by FWC (68A-27, F.A.C.)
    • To report a violation of the species protection laws above or an injured gopher tortoise: 1-888-404-3922

Sample Signs