FWC seeking public comments on draft revisions to Gopher Tortoise Permitting Guidelines

Webinars scheduled for Sept. 7 and Sept. 14, with written comments accepted through Sept. 23

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is seeking public comments on draft revisions to the Gopher Tortoise Permitting Guidelines, it has announced.

“The goal of the proposed revisions is to better protect gopher tortoises by incentivizing relocations to protected recipient sites, clearly defining roles and responsibilities in the relocation process, and clarifying other provisions in the guidelines,” a news release explains.

Key revisions and information included in the guidelines will be presented at two public webinars, FWC notes in the release. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions during both events, it adds. The webinars are scheduled for the following dates:

  • Wednesday, Sept. 7, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 14, from 3 to 4:30 p.m.

Written comments will be accepted through Sept. 23, the release points out.

Information on the draft guidelines, instructions on how to join the webinars — plus a link to the comment survey — are available at MyFWC.com/GopherTortoise. A PDF copy of the presentation also will be posted on the website following the first webinar, the release indicates.

Individuals who would like to comment but will be unable to do so in the specified timeframe, along with those who prefer an alternate format in which to comment, should contact Katherine.Richardson@MyFWC.com, the release adds.

“The gopher tortoise is a state-listed Threatened species,” the release explains. “The Gopher Tortoise Management Plan and associated Guidelines provide the management framework for gopher tortoise conservation in Florida,” the release points out. “Gopher Tortoise Permitting Guidelines clarify protections, outline activities where permits are needed, provide methods and qualifications for individuals conducting gopher tortoise relocation, and outline requirements for sites that receive gopher tortoises,” the release notes.

The initial guidelines were approved in 2008, the release says; “several revisions over the years have allowed for continued improvement in the permitting process and in conservation for the species.”