World Turtle News, 08/06/2017
Newly Installed Wildlife Fencing Leading To Adaptation Issues For Gopherus Agassizii
Land owners may conclude that their efforts to protect the Gopherus agassizii by installing fencing along their property is a beneficial measure, but research is showing that they may be mistaken. According to a study done by University of California, Davis, and the University of Georgia, fencing can actually be fatal to even these heat-loving chelonians. The problem lies with adaptation to the change in their habitat. The tortoises are pacing the fences and consequently overheating in the intense desert sun. Researchers also discovered that the number of tortoises crossing the roads is actually lower than previously thought. They prefer to cross at desert wash sites, and the idea is to create underpasses and fencing at those specific sites as opposed to miles of roadside fencing. Another solution includes traffic law enforcement during certain times of the year when the tortoises are more likely to be crossing roads. Brian Todd, an associate professor at the UC Davis Department of Wildlife states that research which creates solutions to issues is key for the Gopherus agassizii to coexist along with the rise of renewable energy.
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Photo from J. Mark Peaden.