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Some people claim gopher tortoise burrows are in danger at Englewood park

Gopher tortoise
Posted at 4:43 PM, Jul 05, 2024

ENGLEWOOD, Fla. — Some community members are responding after finding debris on top of tortoise burrows at Lemon Bay Park & Environmental Center in Englewood.

They told Englewood Community Correspondent Victoria Scott that a contractor came through and mowed down tortoise burrows while working on a project.

Scott spent her Friday talking to people who say animals could be trapped under all the debris. They told her it was carelessly left across burrows that once belonged to gopher tortoises and other wildlife.

However, Sarasota County officials said that's not the case.

Staff told Scott in a written statement that gopher tortoise burrows were flagged to the best of their ability before fire mitigation work was performed on the property at the end of June.

County employees also said contractors surveyed the project area before they began working on it.

However, an Englewood resident named June isn't buying it.

"They absolutely did not," June told Scott. "The contractor said he never walked it. It wasn't part of his job. He was told there was one burrow here that they went around. The problem is what they've done here. They impacted the ground so much with heavy machinery that was used. We don't even know where all the burrows are at this point."

Concerned residents said they plan to work with volunteers, the land manager, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to make sure this doesn't happen again.