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gopher tortoise

Ridge Road Gopher Tortoise Vigil February 9

By Florida's Original NatureCoaster™ Posted on February 5, 2020

As Pasco County begins its Ridge Road Extension project, some residents are in an uproar over the 115 endangered gopher tortoises in the pathway of heavy land clearing equipment, dump trucks, and construction crews.  

Florida Fish and Wildlife has assured this citizens group that each and every one of the endangered gopher tortoises located within the road construction site will be protected from being buried alive in their burrows and will not be left without a burrow in cold weather. Being without a burrow in cold weather can kill a gopher tortoise.

Attend a Gopher Tortoise Vigil for the Ridge Road Project’s Wildlife

Concerned citizens are invited to attend a Gopher Tortoise Vigil on Sunday, February 9, 2020, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the corner of Ridge Road and Moon Lake Road in New Port Richey, Florida, to rally their displeasure and concern for the wildlife within the Serenova Tract of Starkey Wilderness Preserve and elsewhere. 

Florida Fish and Wildlife has stated that a relocation service company will ensure their safety, but residents are not convinced the gopher tortoises will be protected.

“We’ve already witnessed bulldozed sites at numerous former burrows off Towne Center Road,” said Dan Callaghan, a Sierra Club member, “and there’s evidence of additional tortoise burrows that haven’t been identifiably staked.”

Pasco Activist Group is Concerned that Construction may be proceeding before the Tortoises are Safely Rehomed

The company responsible for relocating the gopher tortoises, for example, posted their permit at the junction of Moon Lake Road and Ridge Road after crews had already begun working at the site. 

“We’ve been told that Florida Fish and Wildlife has too few personnel to retrace that company’s steps,” said Richard Sommerville, a member of the Save Serenova Coalition. “Instead, they told us to report any tortoises we still believe to be in the danger zone. How is that even possible to do, when we’re not even allowed on the construction site?”

Concerned citizens are invited to join a Gopher Tortoise Vigil Sunday, February 9, 2020, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the corner of Ridge Road and Moon Lake Road in New Port Richey, Florida, to rally their displeasure and concern for the wildlife within the Serenova Tract of Starkey Wilderness Preserve and elsewhere. 

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