If you are a resident of Florida, you have likely encountered a gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) or its burrow. 
Despite its relatively common occurrence, the gopher tortoise is listed as a  "Threatened" species by the State of Florida,
and permits are required to conduct most activities that impact gopher tortoises or their burrows.  Because gopher tortoises
prefer well drained, sandy soil habitats, the areas they inhabit are also prime development locations.
An active gopher tortoise burrow exhibits a "half moon" shape with a relative flat bottom and crescent or concave top.  The
entrance to the burrow is marked by a bare sandy area referred to as the burrow apron.
Florida laws prohibit "taking" of a gopher tortoise or its burrow.  Fortunately, there are multiple management options
available that can be tailored to meet an individual project's needs.  Once the specifics of your project have been discussed,
the first step in developing a gopher tortoise management plan is identifying the location and number of burrows on your
project site.  After the extent of the population is revealed, our staff will provide you with a summary of the "best fit"
options available for your specific project. Management options may include avoidance of burrows on-site by a minimum of
25’, on-site or off-site relocation, or temporary exclusion for installation of underground utilities.  Up to date permitting
guidelines are available at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission web-site:
Example Features and Results Map:
                    
The Gopher Tortoise Relocation Results map to the left
shows the locations of the captured tortoises and
unoccupied burrows that were excavated during this study. 
Burrows marked by a red X symbol were unoccupied;
green/white tortoise symbols indicate positive burrows in
which one tortoise was captured, green black tortoise
symbol indicates a positive burrow in which two tortoises
were captured, and a blue circle indicates an unoccupied
burrow which included a nest (within the apron) containing
a clutch of eggs. 
 
Gopher Tortoise Surveys,
Permits & Relocations