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Gopher Tortoise Program

Gopher tortoises are long-lived reptiles that occupy upland habitat throughout Florida including forests, pastures, and yards. They dig deep burrows for shelter and forage on low-growing plants. Gopher tortoises share their burrows with more than 350 other species, and are therefore referred to as a keystone species. In Florida, the gopher tortoise is listed as Threatened. Both the tortoise and its burrow are protected under state law. Gopher tortoises must be relocated before any land clearing or development takes place, and property owners must obtain permits from the FWC before capturing and relocating tortoises. For more information on gopher tortoise permitting, or how to get involved, please see links below. 


Sick or injured tortoise: On weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., please call (850) 921-1030. After hours and on weekends, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's toll-free Wildlife Alert hotline at (888) 404-3922, or use #FWC or *FWC on your cell phone. You also can text

Dead tortoise: Report sightings of dead gopher tortoises on FWC’s mortality webform and provide information on cause of mortality, if known. Please report mortalities suspected to be caused by illegal activities to FWC’s Wildlife Alert hotline at (888) 404-3922.

Report Mortality Online