World Turtle News, 12/11/2018
Georgia Research Project Brings Hope For Gopherus Polyphemus
Brantley and Charlton counties were once prime tortoise habitat; however, development has created a dire situation for the endangered Gopherus polyphemus, prompting action from conservationists to prevent their downfall. Beginning with the mining industry, this former haven has been transformed into a construction zone, and the tortoises are rapidly declining from the area. Dirk Stevenson, owner of Altamaha Environmental Consulting, recently partnered with Lance Paden, Research Professional II with the University of Georgia at the Odum School of Ecology, Applied Wildlife Conservation Lab, to work on a relocation project for the species. The goal location is a protected area along the Altamaha River and special digging methods are utilized to extract the tortoises from their current burrows in order to transport them to safer accommodations. Each individual is marked and fitted with a radio-transmitter, in addition to cameras which are installed near the entrance of the new burrows where they are re-released. Both researchers are optimistic about the results of this initiative, and hope that their dedicated efforts will result in the rebound of this species in their home state of Georgia.
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Photo from Janet Molchan.