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  • Species Profile for Gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)
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Gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)

Candidate Info | Federal Register | Recovery | Critical Habitat | Conservation Plans | Petitions | Life History

Listing Status:    and  

General Information

The gopher tortoise is a large, (shell 15 to 37 centimeters or 5.9 to 14.6 inches long) dark-brown to grayish-black terrestrial turtle with elephantine hind feet, shovel-like forefeet, and a gular projection beneath the head on the yellowish, hingeless plastron or undershell (Ernst and Barbour 1972). The sex of individual turtles can usually be determined by shell dimensions. A male turtle has a greater degree of lower shell concavity, and a longer gular projection. However, the sex of tortoises at maturity size is difficult to determine (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 199O).

Population detail

The FWS is currently monitoring the following populations of the Gopher tortoise 

 
Current Listing Status Summary
Status Date Listed Lead Region Where Listed
07-07-1987 Southeast Region (Region 4) Wherever found west of Mobile and Tombigbee Rivers in AL, MS, and LA
Southeast Region (Region 4) eastern

» Candidate Information

Current Candidate Status
Listing Priority: 8
Magnitude:  Moderate to Low
Immediacy: Imminent
Taxonomy: Species
Species Assessment: 
Candidate Notice of Review Documents
Date Citation Page Title
12-30-1982 47 FR 58454 58460 Review of Vertebrate Wildlife for Listing as End. or Thr. Species
09-18-1985 50 FR 37958 37967 Review of Vertebrate Wildlife; Notice of Review; 50 FR 37958-37967
01-06-1989 54 FR 554 579 ETWP; Animal Notice of Review; 54 FR 554 579
11-21-1991 56 FR 58804 58836 ETWP; Animal Candidate Review for Listing as Endangered or Threatened Species; 56 FR 58804 58836
11-15-1994 59 FR 58982 59028 ETWP; Animal Candidate Review for Listing as Endangered or Threatened Species.
12-05-2014 79 FR 72449 72497 Review of Native Species That Are Candidates for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions
11-22-2013 77 FR 70103 70162 Review of Native Species That are Candidates for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions
11-21-2012 77 FR 69993 70060 Review of Native Species That Are Candidates for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions
10-26-2011 76 FR 66370 66439 Review of Native Species That Are Candidates for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions

» Federal Register Documents

Federal Register Documents
Date Citation Page Title
10-26-2011 76 FR 66370 66439 Review of Native Species That Are Candidates for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions
07-07-1987 52 FR 25376 25380 Determination of Thr. Status for Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus); 52 FR 25376-25380
09-09-2009 74 FR 46401 46406 90-Day Finding on a Petition to List the Eastern Population of the Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) as Threatened
11-21-2012 77 FR 69993 70060 Review of Native Species That Are Candidates for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions
11-22-2013 77 FR 70103 70162 Review of Native Species That are Candidates for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions
12-30-1982 47 FR 58454 58460 Review of Vertebrate Wildlife for Listing as End. or Thr. Species
01-09-1986 51 FR 996 999 Findings on Pending Petitions & Description of Progress on Listing Actions; 51 FR 996-999
11-15-1994 59 FR 58982 59028 ETWP; Animal Candidate Review for Listing as Endangered or Threatened Species.
12-05-2014 79 FR 72449 72497 Review of Native Species That Are Candidates for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions
07-27-2011 76 FR 45130 45162 12-Month Finding on a Petition To List the Gopher Tortoise as Threatened in the Eastern Portion of Its Range
01-17-2001 66 FR 4036 4038 Availability of a Draft Environmental Assessment and Preliminary Finding of No Significant Impact, and Receipt of an Application for an Incidental Take Permit for Gopher Tortoises by the Board of Water and Sewer Commissioners of the City of Mobile, Mobile County, Alabama
12-18-1984 49 FR 49118 49119 Findings on 5 Petitions & of Review of 5 Species; 49 FR 49118-49119
04-09-2010 75 FR 18233 18234 5-Year Status Reviews of 10 Southeastern Species; Notice of initiation of reviews; request for information
01-06-1989 54 FR 554 579 ETWP; Animal Notice of Review; 54 FR 554 579
11-21-1991 56 FR 58804 58836 ETWP; Animal Candidate Review for Listing as Endangered or Threatened Species; 56 FR 58804 58836
01-12-2010 75 FR 1567 1568 90-Day Finding on a Petition to List the Eastern Population of the Gopher Tortoise as Threatened
09-18-1985 50 FR 37958 37967 Review of Vertebrate Wildlife; Notice of Review; 50 FR 37958-37967
07-08-1986 51 FR 24723 24727 Proposed Thr. Status for Western Population of Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus); 51 FR 24723-24727

» Recovery

Current Recovery Plan(s)
Date Title Plan Action Status Plan Status
12-26-1990 Gopher Tortoise View Implementation Progress Final
Other Recovery Documents
Date Citation Page Title Document Type
04-09-2010 75 FR 18233 18234 5-Year Status Reviews of 10 Southeastern Species; Notice of initiation of reviews; request for information
  • Notice 5-year Review, Initiation

» Critical Habitat

No critical habitat rules have been published for the Gopher tortoise.

» Conservation Plans

Habitat Conservation Plans (HCP) (learn more)
HCP Plan Summaries
Board of Water and Sewer Commissioners
Church of God by Faith
City of Palm Bay
Johns Island Golf Club (58th Avenue Expansion)
Lamar County School Board
Langboard, Inc.
Perry County Board of Supervisors
Pine Belt Regional Landfill, Amend #1
Pine Belt Regional Landfill Authority
Tierra del Sol
Safe Harbor Agreements (SHA): (learn more)
SHA Plan Summaries
Martin Branch Woodland Tract (Lambert) SHA
Candidate Conservation Agreements (CCA): (learn more)
CCA Plan Summaries
Gopher Tortoise Candidate Conservation Agreement

» Petitions

» Life History

No Life History information has been entered into this system for this species.

» Other Resources

NatureServe Explorer Species Reports -- NatureServe Explorer is a source for authoritative conservation information on more than 50,000 plants, animals and ecological communtities of the U.S and Canada. NatureServe Explorer provides in-depth information on rare and endangered species, but includes common plants and animals too. NatureServe Explorer is a product of NatureServe in collaboration with the Natural Heritage Network.

ITIS Reports -- ITIS (the Integrated Taxonomic Information System) is a source for authoritative taxonomic information on plants, animals, fungi, and microbes of North America and the world.

FWS Digital Media Library -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Digital Library is a searchable collection of selected images, historical artifacts, audio clips, publications, and video.