Reed Bingham protects Gopher Tortoise Population - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Reed Bingham protects Gopher Tortoise Population

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April 2, 2007

Adel - Raymond Brown is walking the 11-acre gopher tortoise colony at Reed Bingham State Park, searching for unmarked burrows.

"With a new burrow we place a yellow flag, and that lets searchers know there's a burrow there."

It's part of a park project that protects Georgia's Official State Reptile from predators.  "There's really several, that's what makes it so bad.  They've got raccoons, foxes, crows, the crows are terrible.  Then they found out a couple years ago armadillos were getting the," he says.

These predators search for tortoise eggs and eat them before they hatch.  But now rangers and park volunteers hope to find them first.  "You just got to dig down, sometimes this deep until you feel an egg."

They then place the eggs in an incubator until they hatch.

Once the eggs hatch, the gopher tortoise management team will bring these little guys back to their burrows where they'll have a better survival rate than if left to hatch on their own.  "Most predators that eat them are nocturnal and since they are diurnal, which means they come out and eat in the daytime, they are less likely to encounter those predators," says Park Manager Chet Powell.

Burrow identification has started now, and they'll begin collecting the eggs this May.  They will then release the tortoises back to their homes in August.

Reed Bingham will begin training Tuesday April third and 10 at 7:00 PM for volunteers interested in helping with gopher tortoise management and egg recovery.

Anyone wishing to volunteer pr find out more information can call Reed Bingham at (229) 896-3551 or e-mail Chet_Powell@dnr.state.ga.us.

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