When purchasing Florida land for development purpose, it is imperative to commit due diligence in assessing the impact that development will have on wildlife. There are several regulations regarding the impact of development on wildlife that may be costly for those that wish to purchase land. One species that can be costly to mitigate is the Gopher Tortoise, found commonly throughout Florida.
Gopher Tortoises are listed as a “threatened” species and are “federally protected” by the United States Fish And Wildlife Service. This means that land occupied by Gopher Tortoises must undergo the process of surveying, mitigation, and relocation in order to ensure that the impact on the species is reduced.
Gopher Tortoises are protected due to the fact that their signature half-moon burrows provide shelter for other protected species such as Rattlesnakes and Gopher Frogs. If these burrows are found on your property, you must undertake the process of applying to the USFWS for a relocation permit, a process that may take up to a couple of months.
This process begins with a comprehensive survey that maps out where the tortoises are located. Once the map and application have been sent to the USFWS and approved, the tortoises must be moved to an approved recipient location. The current price for relocation is $1300 per tortoise. The cost of relocation services is about $2000 per day, driving the daily relocation cost to $2000 + $1300/tortoise. Seven to ten burrows can be relocated per day.
Gopher Tortoises can usually be relocated during any time of the year with the exception of three consecutive days under 50 degrees Fahrenheit on the recipient property. This means that it is more convenient to relocate during non-winter months.
In the video below, Elaine Imbruglia of Modica & Associates sits down with The Land Journal to discuss Florida wildlife mitigation.
Elaine has 24 years of experience in ecological consulting and scientific studies. She has worked for the private, public and non-profit sectors. Imbruglia specializes in comprehensive environmental planning and strategic site design for large-scale projects.
Richard Dempsey, ALC, is a licensed real estate associate specializing in all types of agricultural land, citrus groves, large acreage tracts, ranches, hunting/recreational tracts, and commercial/development land. He has been associated with SVN Saunders Real Estate since 2000. Learn more about Richard.
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