In Florida, the gopher tortoise is listed as Threatened. Both the tortoise and its burrow are protected under state law. They must be relocated before any land clearing or development takes place and property owners must obtain permits from the Florida Wildlife Commission before capturing and relocating tortoises.
Gopher tortoises are long-lived reptiles that occupy upland habitat throughout Florida including forests, pastures, and yards. They dig deep burrows for shelter and forage on low-growing plants. Since Gopher tortoises share their burrows with more than 350 other species, and are therefore referred to as a keystone species.