The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) invites you to celebrate Gopher Tortoise Day by making your yard gopher tortoise friendly. Gopher Tortoise Day is on April 10 but you can celebrate year-round when you have a tortoise friendly yard.
With more than half of Florida land in private ownership, the FWC recognizes the critical importance of private property owners in wildlife and habitat conservation. The FWC’s Gopher Tortoise Friendly Yard Recognition Program honors Florida’s private landowners for their positive impact on gopher tortoise conservation.
“The Gopher Tortoise Friendly Yard Recognition Program helps recognize and encourage landowners to enhance habitat and help protect gopher tortoises and their burrows,” said FWC’s Gopher Tortoise Program Coordinator, Katherine Richardson. “These kinds of efforts also benefit many other species that use tortoise burrows for shelter, foraging and nesting habitat.”
Landowners participating in the Gopher Tortoise Friendly Yard Recognition Program are recognized with a sign for their property and a certificate. Any Florida property owner can take steps to make their land gopher tortoise friendly. To apply for recognition, landowners should sign the Acknowledgement Form, provide contact and property information, and complete the Gopher Tortoise Friendly Yard checklist.
Gopher Tortoise Day was adopted in 2016 as a day of appreciation for our native tortoises and to encourage people to help protect this threatened species. This Gopher Tortoise Day, share your appreciation on social media. Use #GopherTortoiseDay on your social media posts and share photos of gopher tortoises you spot. Looking for other ways to celebrate Gopher Tortoise Day? Go to GopherTortoiseDayFL.com for information and activities for April 10 and all year long, including a resolution template for your community to adopt Gopher Tortoise Day, a guide to living with gopher tortoises and ideas for kids’ activities, such as fun gopher tortoise coloring pages and the Gopher Tortoise Field Trip Guide.
There are additional ways you can help gopher tortoises:
- Report sightings of gopher tortoises or notify the FWC of a sick, injured or dead tortoise.
- Consider volunteering with the FWC on gopher tortoise conservation efforts. For more information on volunteering with the FWC or to request an application, email: GTEvents@MyFWC.com.
- If you see a gopher tortoise crossing a road and it is safe for you to do so, you may pick it up and place it in a safe location along the roadside in the direction it was heading. Never put tortoises in water, as gopher tortoises can’t swim like turtles can.
- Remember that gopher tortoises are a protected species. It is illegal to harm a gopher tortoise, its eggs or its burrow, to relocate without a permit, or to possess a tortoise, its eggs, or any parts of a tortoise. Report wildlife violations to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).
Spring is an active time for gopher tortoises and many native wildlife species. Learn more by visiting MyFWC.com/News and clicking on “Spring Wildlife News.” Find out more about Florida’s only native tortoise at MyFWC.com/GopherTortoise.