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Gopher Tortoise Management Plan

The revised Gopher Tortoise Management Plan was approved on September 5, 2012. The revised plan takes the place of the original plan approved in 2007 (see below). Thank you to all stakeholders and members of the public for input and participation throughout this process.

The gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) has been regulated in Florida since 1972 and has been fully protected since 1988. Despite the afforded protection, gopher tortoise populations throughout the state have declined. As a response to the continuing decline of the species, a new management plan was drafted and approved in September 2007 as a precursor to reclassifying the gopher tortoise from a "species of special concern" to a "threatened species." The threatened status was approved and went into effect on November 8, 2007.

Following the first 5 years of implementation, FWC worked with stakeholders to revise and improve the original management plan. The revised plan was approved in September 2012.

The ultimate goal of the Gopher Tortoise Management Plan (September 2012) is to restore and maintain secure, viable populations of gopher tortoises throughout Florida so the species no longer warrants state listing. The plan establishes the measurable overarching objective that works towards decreasing the rate of population decline of the gopher tortoise because it is necessary to immediately decrease the rate of decline so that the ultimate conservation goal can be achieved (i.e., < 30% over 3 generations to evaluate the Threatened designation and potentially delist the species if it does not meet any of the criteria for listing outlined in 68A-27 F.A.C. ).

For this 10-year plan, the overarching objective of no net loss of gopher tortoises will be accomplished by meeting all of the following objectives:

  1. Minimize the loss of gopher tortoises.
  2. Increase and improve gopher tortoise habitat.
  3. Enhance and restore gopher tortoise populations
  4. Maintain the gopher tortoise’s function as a keystone species.

To achieve these objectives, a cooperative program partnering with state, local, and private entities has been established across the state.

Original Management Plan

The original Gopher Tortoise Management Plan (2007)  was approved in September 2007. It is provided here for reference purposes only.