The state commissioners have already agreed to reclassify the shelled animal as a threated species once the plan is approved.Â It vows to make it illegal to pay a fee, plow the land, and effectively kill the animals habitat.
Gopher tortoise borroughs are declining in Florida at an alarming rate.Â
One reason why may be because of incidental take parmits which allow landowners to pay a fee to the state to be used to buy prime gopher tortoise land for relocation.
"Your paying mitigation fees now and moving the animals. The point is to develop a more conservative minded developer... looking for a good habitat to place these displaced tortoises in," Joy Hill from the Florida Fish and Wildlife said.
Under the new plan, those who find prime new land for gopher tortoises would pay a smaller fee to the state than those who simply move the animal out of the way.
Fish and Wildlife emphasized that this is just the first draft and they are seeking public feedback until April 4.Â You can read the draft and offer suggestions by visiting Fish and Wildlife website.
By Greg Bilazarian, WCJB TV 20 News
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