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 Post subject: A short visit to an interesting Gopher place
PostPosted: January 23rd, 2013, 9:32 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:23 am
Posts: 2161
Location: Unicoi, TN
A trip to Florida last Halloween was a special event for us, but it was primarily family business.

To eek some nature out of the trip, my wife tried to feed a ladybug (our granddaughter) to a spider!


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:roll:



We did manage to get out to some federal land for a walk with our dogs.
A pleasant surprise was an area that had several Gophers roaming around in a protected area.
We counted about 5 in an hour.


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Moving down the trail to some private land (no signs, no posted notices) and adjacent to the federal land, we discovered about 40 Gopher burrows in about an acre, and about 8 foraging adults.

Gophers can be locally abundant, but this was great.


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And again.


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The reality that these on private land were not protected very well concerned us.




So on our visit to Florida during the Dec/Jan holidays, though fraught with family obligations and drama, we did manage to sneak away to the this local again.

We weren’t disappointed.


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And, as you might guess there was one of the Gopher’s neighbors about:


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 Post subject: Re: A short visit to an interesting Gopher place
PostPosted: January 23rd, 2013, 9:34 am 
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Joined: October 1st, 2011, 11:01 am
Posts: 1793
Location: huntsville
Cool Bill. Love the hab pics :beer:


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 Post subject: Re: A short visit to an interesting Gopher place
PostPosted: January 23rd, 2013, 2:53 pm 
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Joined: June 13th, 2010, 5:06 pm
Posts: 395
Cool, I miss getting to see gophers regularly. That EDB was a nice find, too. Looks like a big'n, enjoyed the in situ shots. Did you search for a nearby hibernaculum?


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 Post subject: Re: A short visit to an interesting Gopher place
PostPosted: January 23rd, 2013, 3:53 pm 
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Joined: August 23rd, 2010, 4:04 am
Posts: 233
Location: Hardin County, Ky
I'm so envious right now.


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 Post subject: Re: A short visit to an interesting Gopher place
PostPosted: January 23rd, 2013, 3:58 pm 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:42 am
Posts: 2228
Looks like quite the awesome place, Bill. I love the gophers as well as the EDB.


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 Post subject: Re: A short visit to an interesting Gopher place
PostPosted: January 23rd, 2013, 4:50 pm 
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Joined: March 26th, 2012, 10:33 am
Posts: 176
Location: Hamblen County, TN
Sounds like an awesome spot. When I first read the title I thought of the mammal, then it clicked when I saw the tortoise :lol: Nice EDB, looks good sized too.


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 Post subject: Re: A short visit to an interesting Gopher place
PostPosted: January 23rd, 2013, 6:37 pm 

Joined: June 9th, 2010, 1:04 pm
Posts: 79
Location: Central Florida
Cool stuff I never get tired of the Gopher Tortoises, but arghhhh when will it be my turn for an EDB?!?! lol. I've got a few spots around here that I have heard of EDB's being seen but no luck yet. I'm planning on spending alot of time there during this cooler weather searching for them. What are good conditions to find them out basking? Some say sunny weather in the 60's out around burrows and stumpholes but I don't find much of anything during that weather anyways so I'm kind of skeptical haha.


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 Post subject: Re: A short visit to an interesting Gopher place
PostPosted: January 23rd, 2013, 6:53 pm 
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Joined: August 18th, 2010, 4:35 pm
Posts: 355
Location: Hilton Head Island, South Cackalacky
Very cool, Bill. EDBs and Gophers are always a welcomed sight. The habitat looks awesome too!


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 Post subject: Re: A short visit to an interesting Gopher place
PostPosted: January 24th, 2013, 7:56 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:23 am
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Location: Unicoi, TN
Dery
Quote:
Cool Bill. Love the hab pics.

Thanks Sam, Take lots the same next weekend.



umop apisdn
Quote:
Did you search for a nearby hibernaculum?

Yeah, Mike.
Within 10 meters in 3 separate directions there were 3-4 Gopher burrows.



Todd
Quote:
I'm so envious right now.

Not as much as me that you all are going to S AL next weekend!
Have a great time.




Tamara
Quote:
Looks like quite the awesome place

It’s not far off the beaten track, so the next time Ray and you head for S FL, I’ll give you the location if you'll be on that side of the state.



Dalton
Quote:
When I first read the title I thought of the mammal, then it clicked when I saw the tortoise

Sorry, Dalton, for the confusion.
In FL, coastal GA, and coastal SC, when locals talk about “Gophers”, they are talking about the reptile. Many locals do not know the mammal exists.


I once had a neighbor in Orlando who lost a whole row of hedges next to his driveway. He pulled the dead plants up and they had no roots.
Someone at a nearby plant nursery, rightly or wrongly, told him “Gophers had probably eaten the roots"; the nursery person meant, of course, the mammal but didn't elaborate.

After telling me this, my neighbor then said to me very seriously, “I didn’t know a turtle could do that.”



Green Snake Man
Quote:
when will it be my turn for an EDB?!?! lol. I've got a few spots around here that I have heard of EDB's being seen but no luck yet. I'm planning on spending alot of time there during this cooler weather searching for them. What are good conditions to find them out basking? Some say sunny weather in the 60's out around burrows and stumpholes

That advice sounds good Alex. Spotting such a cryptic animal is tough especially when they are often coiled half under a palmetto or the like.

In the last 20 years or so, I’ve started using binoculars in good looking habitat for daytime. It’s like a spotlight at night in that it focuses your search on a small area.

Also see PM.



Snakestick
Quote:
Gophers are always a welcomed sight.

You’re right, Ian. They’re often indicators.
Even with non-reptile folks, Gophers breach the gap of reptile prejudice.


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 Post subject: Re: A short visit to an interesting Gopher place
PostPosted: January 24th, 2013, 8:12 am 
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Joined: February 15th, 2011, 8:03 am
Posts: 230
Location: Boone, NC
Also made me think of Geomyidae.... I think I remember that's what the turtle family was called before someone noticed it was also a gopher family...

Have you thought about contacting the land owner? I wonder if they know who else lives on the property.


-Brad


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 Post subject: Re: A short visit to an interesting Gopher place
PostPosted: January 24th, 2013, 2:28 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:23 am
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Location: Unicoi, TN
I made a haphazard attempt, Brad - not much effort.

I did go to the office of the adjoining federal land to talk to the resident biologist; wasn't there; office 30 miles away; talked to ranger. He said the private land was for sale and they, the feds, had access ROW, agreed it would be nice for the state to buy the land to deal with relocated Gophers, and then we both agreed there probably wasn't any money or interest! (Kind of self defeating.)
I'd like to think if I lived nearby, I'd pursue this, BUT....


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 Post subject: Re: A short visit to an interesting Gopher place
PostPosted: January 24th, 2013, 6:10 pm 
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Joined: March 26th, 2012, 10:33 am
Posts: 176
Location: Hamblen County, TN
Haha, makes sense. No need to be sorry, though. Funny story, by the way.


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 Post subject: Re: A short visit to an interesting Gopher place
PostPosted: January 25th, 2013, 1:22 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:31 pm
Posts: 337
Location: Florida, USA
I always like to see gophers out and about...being gophers...:) There's so many organisms that depend on them in one way or another. Hopefully a sign that the others are doing well too.

:Mark


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 Post subject: Re: A short visit to an interesting Gopher place
PostPosted: January 25th, 2013, 5:38 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:11 am
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Location: Lake Worth, FL
Gopher Tortoises certainly have loads of personality. Thanks for posting, Bill.


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 Post subject: Re: A short visit to an interesting Gopher place
PostPosted: January 25th, 2013, 6:40 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 3:02 am
Posts: 878
Josh Holbrook wrote:
Gopher Tortoises certainly have loads of personality. Thanks for posting, Bill.


Agreed! Double digit gophers is always a fun time. What a beauty of an EDB too!
Great post Bill!
--Berkeley


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 Post subject: Re: A short visit to an interesting Gopher place
PostPosted: January 26th, 2013, 8:47 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:23 am
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Location: Unicoi, TN
Mark, Josh, Berkeley
The thing that hit me was the numbers and densities of these neat creatures.

Mark, you may appreciate this, but it reminded of how commonplace these kind of obvious numbers were in the 60s-70s!

It's definitely a place we'll visit again.


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 Post subject: Re: A short visit to an interesting Gopher place
PostPosted: January 26th, 2013, 8:32 pm 

Joined: March 16th, 2011, 10:27 am
Posts: 463
Location: Shawnee Hills, IN
good stuff Bill :D


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 Post subject: Re: A short visit to an interesting Gopher place
PostPosted: January 27th, 2013, 9:43 pm 

Joined: June 9th, 2010, 7:15 pm
Posts: 275
Location: Palm Beach Gardens, Fl
BillMcGighan wrote:
Mark, Josh, Berkeley
The thing that hit me was the numbers and densities of these neat creatures.

Mark, you may appreciate this, but it reminded of how commonplace these kind of obvious numbers were in the 60s-70s!

It's definitely a place we'll visit again.


Yeah, I have not seen them that thick much lately. :(

Shoot, they used to be across the street from my house on a almost 100% chance of finding basis.


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 Post subject: Re: A short visit to an interesting Gopher place
PostPosted: January 28th, 2013, 1:06 pm 

Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm
Posts: 1655
FYI the 2007-2012 gopher mgt plan was revised in September 2012 http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/manag ... ment-plan/.

From the Executive Summary:
Quote:
For this 10-year plan, the overarching objective of no net loss of gopher tortoises will be accomplished by meeting all of the following objectives:

(1) Minimize the loss of gopher tortoises by 2022 by ensuring humane and responsible relocation of all gopher tortoises from lands proposed for development, minimizing illegal harvest of tortoises, creating best management practices (BMPs) for agricultural and silvicultural lands, implementing methods to reduce juvenile mortality, reducing loss of tortoises to disease, and reducing vehicle-related mortality through education and exclusion measures.

(2) Increase and improve gopher tortoise habitat by 2022. This will require ongoing coordination with public agencies on the management of gopher tortoise habitat on protected lands in addition to restoring degraded lands with potential gopher tortoise habitat. Both public and private land acquisition averaging 57,000 acres per year will help to conserve the species distribution and maintain wildlife corridors between undeveloped lands. Identifying additional incentives to encourage habitat management and conservation easements on private lands is instrumental to increasing the acres of managed and protected habitat.

(3) Enhance and restore gopher tortoise populations where the species no longer occurs or has been severely depleted on protected, suitable lands by 2022. This will require an evaluation of protected lands to determine where gopher tortoise populations are depleted and the condition of the habitat. Implementation of a range-wide population monitoring protocol to help evaluate the status of the species throughout Florida will help to determine where gopher tortoise populations need to be restored.

(4) Maintain the gopher tortoise’s function as a keystone species by 2022 by addressing specific management needs and creating guidelines for relocation of priority commensal species from development sites as appropriate. Best management practices for priority commensal species on agricultural and silvicultural lands will also be created, and land managers and the general public will be targeted with information about the broader role of the gopher tortoise as a keystone species.


It's a real pleasure to see them at high densities. There are a number of spots like that along the coast (where you can watch them do funny things like eat dead fish). Cool beasts.

Cheers,
Jimi


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 Post subject: Re: A short visit to an interesting Gopher place
PostPosted: February 15th, 2013, 5:21 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:28 am
Posts: 1855
Location: FL Keys
Bill, that's some yummy looking hab. (The critters aren't bad either!) :mrgreen:
Nice job!

Tim


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