Georgia’s state reptile is a candidate for the endangered species list. The National Fish and Wildlife Service officials say becoming a candidate does not give federal protection.
However, Dave Hankla with the Fish and Wildlife Service says it does make federal grants available to the state and landowners for conservation.
“One of the things that we need is improving prescribed fire to improve the habitat for the species. But, it could be other types of conservation actions out there on the ground.”
Right now further action is unlikely due to federal budget constraints. The Gopher Tortoise already enjoys some protection under state law.
The Gopher tortoise is essential to South Georgia’s ecosystem digging burrows that provide homes for 300 other species.