by Roger Normand
Sarasota County is marking gopher tortoise burrows along the trail in preparation for side-arm mowing the sides of the trail. The yellow caution tape serves to warn the mower operator of a nearby burrow and potential nearby turtles. A particular concern is the weight of the mower potentially collapsing the burrow and trapping the inhabitants. Gopher tortoises are listed as a Threatened Species in Florida, and both the tortoise and borrow are protected under state law. These land dwelling reptiles dig a network of borrows up to ten feet deep and 40 feet long, which they share with more than 350 other species! Interestingly, these herbivores “prune” the plants they eat, usually leaving a healthy plant to regrow.
Please be respectful of wildlife.
Photos courtesy of Megan Donoghue & Roger Normand