Businesses and wildlife groups jumped the fight to save species.

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Businesses and wildlife groups jumped the fight to save species.

Gopher tortoises are large, dry, wrinkled reptiles that excavate underground in the sandy, southern and coastal areas of Georgia.

For those who study them, they are “lovely”, “quite lovely” and “just a great little animal”.

For other animals that use caves, they are property developers.

This is a potential problem for companies. The U.S. fish and wildlife service is considering a protected gopher turtle under the endangered species act, which could mean red tape and extra costs.

Georgia’s listed enterprise with no potential to fight, but took an unusual approach they are with wildlife agencies, private foundations, environmental groups and even the department of defense cooperation, common save the gopher tortoise. They want to protect enough animals, and federal regulation is not necessary.

Nuclear neighbors

The biggest company involved in the Georgia Gopher turtle Initiative is Georgia Power, the state’s largest Power company. All power plants, it is also a major landowner. Ground squirrels live in these plants, including Plant Hatch, a nuclear facility in southern Georgia.

“We’re happy to be here,” said Georgia power wildlife biologist Jim ozil. ‘the gopher is doing very well next door.’

Georgia power wildlife biologist Jim the wazir Ozier (Jim), standing in the way of power lines, run from plants incubator Ozier said, power line area is good for need sunshine of plants and animals.

Molly Samuel/WABE

Mr He said, in addition to planning the tortoise around to make sure that they are not affected by plant maintenance, Georgia power company is still in recovery gopher tortoise’s native habitat, the natural growth of long Ye Songlin here.

On a foggy morning, he was walking down a high-voltage transmission line running from the Hatch factory, looking for a gopher hole. In addition, Savannah McGuire, the head of Georgia’s natural resources department, and her team.

When they found one, McGuire crouched next to the cave, putting a camera in. The camera will stream to the monitor on the ground to see what is in the cave.

“We’ll stick to it and see if he’s home,” she said.

An image of a tortoise shell appears on the LCD screen.

She said, “this is an adult tortoise, estimated to be about 40 years old and one foot wide.

Once the gopher turtles come of age, they are like “landscape traps,” says Kurt Buhlmann, a senior research scientist at the savannah river ecology laboratory at the university of Georgia. “They’re like a rock. They’re going to be there.”

But the smaller ones are eaten by other animals. In general, a little less than before. The number of tortoises has declined in part because of habitat loss, burman said.

The long-leaved pine forest has been replaced by tree plantations, development centers and solar farms. The wildfire that keeps long leaves healthy has been suppressed. According to the Georgia department of natural resources, there were about 90 million acres in the southeast. Now there are three million acres.

Turtles have problems, too. During the great depression, people ate them. They were nicknamed “hoover’s chickens”. Due to the slow breeding of the gopher tortoise, it has not bounced back.

The gopher project is trying to find healthy turtle populations – both on public land and private property – and to protect them in situ. Voluntary, no federal management.

“No conflict protection”

The federal government, Georgia and private foundations are raising $150 million for Gopher turtles.

Of Georgia, the U.S. fish and wildlife service Don Imm said: “I heard recently that, our new cabinet secretary jinke is all about protection of without conflict, this is obviously an example.

Imm says if science shows that the tortoises should be protected by the federal government, they will be. But he said: “if you can do something to avoid this kind of conflict, even if you need to list it, the results will be better.”

‘it’s good for companies to do that,’ says Doug Miell, a consultant with the Georgia chamber of commerce.

“People always think that businesses, industry and environmental groups are in a rush, and we don’t agree with anything,” Miell says. So this is a good example, we can prove it together, hey, we might look at it from different sides, but it’s the same thing. ”

Tracey Tuberville is an assistant research scientist at the Savannah River Ecology Lab (which happens to be married to Buhlmann of UGA). They were not involved in the Georgia Gopher turtle operation. She said the initiative’s partners are working to restore land, which is very good, but in some cases it is better to go further and actively reintroduce rare species. That’s the point of her job.

However, she says the initiative is giving her hope.

“I’m really optimistic,” she said. “they’re a viable species. “Everyone has the same goal, even if it’s just to make sure they’re not listed, and ultimately it means effective protection for the turtle.”

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