SWFL gives a new home to threatened wildlife species

Published: Updated:

Gopher tortoises were released to a new home at the Picayune Strand State Forest.

The tortoises are threatened and protected by Florida law

And Southwest Florida is working to protect them.

After two years, gopher tortoises at the Picayune Strand State Forest have been relocated.


It was a collaborative effort between various state agencies and environmental groups.

Marisa Magrino, with Environmental Consulting Services Group said, “we are doing all we can to protect them.”

The primary threat to the gopher tortoise is habitat loss.

Magrino said these animals were moved from the east side of the forest due to an ongoing restoration project in the area.

The relocation ensures their survival and preservation of biodiversity in the Picayune Strand State Forest.


Mike Knight, District Biologist with Florida Forest Service said the new location is 30 acres and can house 24 gopher tortoises due to stocking density regulations.

“This particular recipient site is one of the newest state-wide and is pretty unique for SWFL as well, there’s not too many of them around in this area,” Knight said.

Their new recipient site ensures not only the tortoises’ survival but also of other species.

“Because the gopher tortoises are a keystone species, its burrowing activities support up to 350 or more other species of wildlife, ranging from different frogs to different insects.. even a few mammals species will make use of this tortoises burrows so having them here on-site not only helps preserve the biodiversity but, in some cases, even increase it,” Knight said.

Knight said the Florida Forest Service hopes to develop other sites to save more tortoises.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.