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 

  • Population location: Wherever found west of Mobile and Tombigbee Rivers in AL, MS, and LA

    Listing status:  Threatened

      • States/US Territories in which this population is known to or is believed to occur:  Alabama , Louisiana , Mississippi
      • US Counties in which this population is known to or is believed to occur:  View All
      • USFWS Refuges in which this population is known to occur:  Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Refuge, Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge, Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge, Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge
  • Population location: eastern

    Listing status:  Candidate

    • States/US Territories in which this population is known to or is believed to occur:  Alabama , Florida , Georgia , South Carolina
    • US Counties in which this population is known to or is believed to occur:  View All
    • USFWS Refuges in which this population is known to occur:  Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge, Island Bay National Wildlife Refuge  ... Show All Refuges
    • Countries in which the this population is known to occur:  United States
 
Current Listing Status Summary
Status Date Listed Lead Region Where Listed
1987-07-07 Southeast Region (Region 4) Wherever found west of Mobile and Tombigbee Rivers in AL, MS, and LA
Southeast Region (Region 4) eastern

» Candidate Information

Candidate Assessments
Candidate Notice of Review Documents
Date Citation Page Title
1989-01-06 ETWP; Animal Notice of Review; 54 FR 554 579
2011-10-26 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
1994-11-15 ETWP; Animal Candidate Review for Listing as Endangered or Threatened Species.
2013-11-22 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
2014-12-05 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
1982-12-30 Review of Vertebrate Wildlife for Listing as End. or Thr. Species
1985-09-18 Review of Vertebrate Wildlife; Notice of Review; 50 FR 37958-37967
1991-11-21 ETWP; Animal Candidate Review for Listing as Endangered or Threatened Species; 56 FR 58804 58836
2012-11-21 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
2016-12-02 Review of Native Species That Are Candidates for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notification of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions
2015-12-24 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
2016-12-02 00:00:00.0 81 FR 87246 87272 Review of Native Species That Are Candidates for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notification of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions
1991-11-21 00:00:00.0 56 FR 58804 58836 ETWP; Animal Candidate Review for Listing as Endangered or Threatened Species; 56 FR 58804 58836
1985-09-18 00:00:00.0 50 FR 37958 37967 Review of Vertebrate Wildlife; Notice of Review; 50 FR 37958-37967
1994-11-15 00:00:00.0 59 FR 58982 59028 ETWP; Animal Candidate Review for Listing as Endangered or Threatened Species.
2013-11-22 00:00:00.0 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
2012-11-21 00:00:00.0 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
2014-12-05 00:00:00.0 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
1986-01-09 00:00:00.0 51 FR 996 999 Findings on Pending Petitions & Description of Progress on Listing Actions; 51 FR 996-999
2011-10-26 00:00:00.0 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
2011-07-27 00:00:00.0 76 FR 45130 45162 12-Month Finding on a Petition To List the Gopher Tortoise as Threatened in the Eastern Portion of Its Range
1982-12-30 00:00:00.0 47 FR 58454 58460 Review of Vertebrate Wildlife for Listing as End. or Thr. Species
1984-12-18 00:00:00.0 49 FR 49118 49119 Findings on 5 Petitions & of Review of 5 Species; 49 FR 49118-49119
1987-07-07 00:00:00.0 52 FR 25376 25380 Determination of Thr. Status for Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus); 52 FR 25376-25380
2001-01-17 00:00:00.0 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
2009-09-09 00:00:00.0 74 FR 46401 46406 90-Day Finding on a Petition to List the Eastern Population of the Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) as Threatened
1989-01-06 00:00:00.0 54 FR 554 579 ETWP; Animal Notice of Review; 54 FR 554 579
2015-12-24 00:00:00.0 80 FR 80583 80614 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
2016-05-10 00:00:00.0 81 FR 28885 Department of Defense; Proposed Gopher Tortoise Conservation and Crediting Strategy
1986-07-08 00:00:00.0 51 FR 24723 24727 Proposed Thr. Status for Western Population of Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus); 51 FR 24723-24727
2010-01-12 00:00:00.0 75 FR 1567 1568 90-Day Finding on a Petition to List the Eastern Population of the Gopher Tortoise as Threatened
2010-04-09 00:00:00.0 75 FR 18233 18234 5-Year Status Reviews of 10 Southeastern Species; Notice of initiation of reviews; request for information

» Recovery

Current Recovery Plan(s)
Date Title Plan Action Status Plan Status
1990-12-26 Gopher Tortoise View Implementation Progress Final
Other Recovery Documents
Date Citation Page Title Document Type
2010-04-09 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.