TALLAHASSEE, Florida (AP) - Proposed changes in Florida's gopher tortoise management plan are aimed at restoring its population so it'll no longer need threatened species protection.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is seeking public comment and plans to consider the proposal in September.
The existing goal is to restore and maintain viable populations in the tortoise's current range. The new version expands that goal statewide and adds the delisting intent.
It currently is illegal to harm the reptiles or their burrows, Tortoise burrows also provide habitats for 350 other species including snakes, frogs and owls, some of them also threatened.
The proposal calls for increasing rather than just maintaining tortoise populations and habitat. But it drops the objective of decreasing mortality on development sites.
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