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Disturbed Sites

Disturbed Site permit
Disturbed Site permits are for the relocation of gopher tortoises from burrows within areas that have been impacted by premature ground disturbance prior to completion of a gopher tortoise burrows survey or before gopher tortoise relocation activities have been completed. Refer to the Gopher Tortoise Permitting Guidelines for more information.   

Requirements for Disturbed Site permits

In accordance with the requirements of Rules 68A-9.002 and 68A-27.003 (F.A.C.), a permit or authorization for a gopher tortoise capture/relocation/release activity must be obtained from the FWC before initiating any relocation work. An Authorized Gopher Tortoise Agent is required for all survey, capture, and relocation activities under a Disturbed Site permit.  For a Disturbed Site permit to be issued, the following four criteria must be met:

  1. Evidence of site disturbance to the ground or vegetation must be present on the site within suitable gopher tortoise habitat.
  2. Site disturbance prevents either complete and accurate tortoise burrow surveys from being conducted, or FWC staff from conducting on-site inspections to verify survey results prior to disturbance commencing.
  3. Impacts have occurred within any part of the project area with documentation of tortoise burrows; or evidence of tortoise burrows is visible within the disturbed area, on the property where disturbance occurred or within close proximity on adjacent properties; or evidence of impact to any tortoise or tortoise burrow.
  4. Disturbance has occurred on the site within the past 18 months.

These criteria may be met before a gopher tortoise permit application has been submitted, during the review of an application, or after a relocation permit has been issued.  An active relocation permit may be revoked, or a pending permit application may be denied if these criteria are met, so that a Disturbed Site permit application may be submitted.  Disturbed sites require different burrow survey protocols for estimating numbers of tortoises present and calculating mitigation contributions.

Mitigation contributions for Disturbed Site permits are higher than for other relocation permits to mitigate for tortoises which may be buried underground or have left the project site in response to disturbance activities and cannot be relocated. The Gopher Tortoise Permitting Guidelines provide additional detail on the requirements to obtain this permit. 

Apply for a Disturbed Site permit

To apply online for a Disturbed Site Conservation or Disturbed Site 10 or Fewer Burrows permit, please visit the FWC online permit system

To apply for a Disturbed Site Temporary Exclusion Permit, download and complete the paper-based permit application.

Refer to the disturbed site permit application checklist for a list of items that will be needed to complete the online application process. Complete applications should be submitted at least 90 days prior to the time needed, although most applications will be processed in 45 days or less.  Timely issuance of permits is dependent on receiving all of the required documentation and mitigation.

Refund Request Form

Permittees may be eligible for a refund once relocation activities have been completed, the after action report submitted, and if the actual number of gopher tortoises relocated was less than the number permitted. Refund requests will be processed only after the final after action report is accepted by the FWC. This refund request form must be submitted to the FWC within 60 days of the date the final after action report is accepted. Forms submitted more than 60 days after FWC acceptance of the final after action report will not be eligible for a refund.

More Information

If you have questions on gopher tortoise permitting please contact the gopher tortoise conservation biologist in your region.

To request accommodations, please email Kirsten Hecht, Communications Coordinator.

Emergency take without relocation permit

This permit will only be issued under limited and specific circumstance in cases where there is an immediate danger to the public's health and/or safety or in direct response to an official declaration of a state of emergency by the Governor of Florida or a local government entity.

For additional information on Special Permits, refer to Gopher Tortoise Permitting Guidelines.