Park needs help to save threatened species - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Park needs help to save threatened species

Cook County - Theresa Kirkland has never hunted gopher tortoise eggs before, but she's learning how. "We don't know much about the ecosystem in our area so its been an eye opening experience," said Kirkland.

She's volunteering for a project at Reed Bingham State Park that will help save the gopher tortoise species. "When this project first started, we were losing more than 80 percent of our eggs to predators," said Chet Powell, Park Ranger.

Animals like skunks, raccoons, and armadillos have devastated the tortoise population. But the park is training volunteers to retrieve the eggs and hatch them in a safe environment. "The eggs will be incubated in a special building and we'll bring them back and release the babies at the same location where the eggs were found," said Powell.

Gopher tortoises aren't endangered in Georgia, but they are on the threatened list. That's why its so important for volunteers to come out and help protect these little guys from predators.

Saving these tortoises is crucial, since they make up a vital part of our ecosystem. "More than 350 animals at different times will use these boroughs for homes and since they dig in the ground, they rotate nutrients for plants so they're beneficial all the way around," said Powell.

The park's last training session will be Thursday night. If you want to help preserve this threatened species, call the park office.

posted by ashley.harper@walb.com

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