- Father relieved after wife in coma gives birth to healthy baby boy
- 7 tons of hummus recalled from Target, Trader Joes
- Teen shoots 6-foot rattlesnake that bit mother dog, puppies
- Bear, lion and tiger celebrate 13 years together
- 19-year-old kills herself after porn audition
The Humane Society of the United States and wildlife experts are in the process of rescuing and moving some endangered gopher tortoises in Florida Sunday.
About 25 gopher tortoises will be rescued through excavation of their underground burrows at the central Florida development site.
Flags across the site mark the spots where rescuers believe a tortoise is living underneath the ground.
Officials said the painstaking process could take several days.
“It can take from 30 minutes to three hours to excavate a single burrow. At the end of that excavation, there may or may not be a tortoise in the hole,” said Dave Pauli, with HSUS.
WFTV was there as workers and volunteers found and rescued one tortoise after another.
Officials said the development site was permitted under an older state policy that would have allowed builders to crush or bury the animals alive in their burrows.
The developer, however, decided to work HSUS so the gopher tortoises wouldn’t be hurt during construction.
“In many properties where they either don’t have a permit or don’t follow FWC regulations, tortoises do get buried. And it’s truly horrific,” Pauli said.
Rescuing and moving each tortoise costs HSUS about $300 and a day of work costs them about $2,000.
It’s paid for with donations and grants, and officials said developers often donate as well.
“They’re accepting the opportunity to do the right thing and get these tortoises dug up and taken to a preserve,” Pauli said.
The tortoises will be taken to the Nokuse Plantation, a 50,000-acre nature preserve in the Florida panhandle.