Volunteers Stop Bulldozers from Burying Tortoises Alive

 

Written by Laura Guttridgeof Florida

I have been a volunteer for the Vero Beach Humane Society for many years. As a volunteer, I got notice from them that a 38 acre site in Vero Beach was under construction. Unfortunately, this land was the home to dozens of the endangered gopher tortoises. A controversial state law in Florida allows developers to pay into a land management program, and then plow over gopher tortoise burrows condemning the tortoises inside to a slow death. The entombed tortoise can live for up to 6 months underground before dying of starvation and suffocation.

Typically citizens are not allowed to re-locate gopher tortoises. However, The Florida Fish and Wildlife conservation commission changed its rules, putting aside the required complicated permitting process typically required before relocating gopher tortoises, so we could rescue them.

Ilka Daniels, director of outreach services for the VBHS, spearheaded the efforts, and for the first time regular citizens were allowed to relocate the endangered gopher tortoises. We would wake up early every morning and search the site for wandering tortoises, and we also set up bucket traps to catch them, so we could get them out of harms way. We even excavated burrows, digging deep into their tunnels to find them. One tortoise we rescued was injured and needed to be rehabilitated. All the others we were able to find and save were measured, weighed, numbered and photographed before being sent to a holding pen, until they could be release into their new 18 acre preserve. They would be taken outside daily to roam in the Florida sunshine and eat fresh grass while they waited to be released into their new home.

At the end of our rescue, which took months, we managed to saved 31 of the endangered gopher tortoises. Private land owners can actually be provided with financial incentives by establishing tortoise preserves. Anyone who has ever had the opportunity to get to know one of these amazing animals would agree that they are certainly worth saving. I am honored to have had the opportunity to help give these animals a new lease on life. More great photos here

Brought to you by The Great Animal Rescue Chase & Harmony Fund

 

406 comments

Edmond Ciesielski

Merci mille fois

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kx b.
kx b5 years ago

thanks for doing this when normally nothing would be done and all i would read is that the turtles
were run over.you are truly a wonderful entity in the world.

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Rhiannon Bloomfield

Well done Laura for doing such a great job!

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Jessica L.
Janne O6 years ago

On behalf of turtles and turtle lovers everywhere, thank you Laura for your excellent work!

"A controversial state law in Florida allows developers to pay into a land management program, and then plow over gopher tortoise burrows condemning the tortoises inside to a slow death."
What. The. Bleep.
I'd like to bury alive those coming up with and okaying that law as well as those who execute it. This is animal cruelty at its worst, and to make matters even worse, we're talking about an endangered species.

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Dale Overall

Profit and money always come before Mother Nature, it is in the profiteer's Rules and Regulations of Life somewhat akin to a Ferengi Rules Of Aqiuisition (Star Trek Deep Space Nine). The Ferengi, aliens who believe in Profit Above All Else are certainly going to admire developers for their heartless and unconcerned airs when it comes to endangering tortoise hatchlings.

Thank you volunteers, for you no Ferengi Admiration Society but kudos from the world of Nature and people who prefer reason and compassion over profit

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Michael Frederick

A good heart is that whats' you are

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Michael P.
Michael P6 years ago

Great job, well done!

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Michael P.
Michael P6 years ago

Great job, well done!

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Laurie Greenberg
Laurie Greenberg6 years ago

Thank you for showing compassion to these creatures. You are a splendid human being!

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Kimberly Simms
Kimberly S6 years ago

Way to go Laura et al. It's people like you that give this world a fighting chance against those who drive the bulldozers. Thank you!

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