See Below for Open Courses and Registration Information
Wildlands Conservation, in conjunction with the Ashton Biological Preserve, is certified by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to provide Authorized Agent training courses to individuals working with gopher tortoises. This is consistent with our conservation mission, as we place a tremendous amount of importance in placing accurate and job-relevant information into the hands of those individuals that will most likely be on the ground working with this species. The typical student for these courses is in a professional position that places him or her in contact with gopher tortoises and/or gopher tortoise habitat on a regular basis. This course is ideal for state and local government employees, private land managers, environmental consultants, developers, and non-governmental organization members, to name a few.
All of our courses provide detailed information on the FWC permitting guidelines as well as gopher tortoise natural history and management. These details provide the student with a working knowledge of gopher tortoise ecology that is vital to making sound project management decisions in complex and ever-changing scenarios. We offer three courses, each of which are designed to meet the criteria for certification in at least one of the following specific gopher tortoise related activities: surveys, marking, transport, release, bucket trapping, live trapping, hand shovel excavation, and/or mechanical excavation. In order to apply for any given FWC gopher tortoise permit (e.g. relocation, recipient site, etc.), an individual must be authorized by FWC in all of the activities that they are proposing to perform. Upon successful completion of one of the following courses, the student will receive a certification letter that can be attached to the application that they will submit to the FWC to be permitted as a Gopher Tortoise Authorized Agent.
Course A: Gopher Tortoise Surveys is a two day course centered around surveying, natural history, and the FWC permitting guidelines. Course A is considered the initial building block of these certifications and should be taken before course B. Typical Course Cost – $600.
Course B: Gopher Tortoise Capture and Handling is also a two day course, and is centered around bucket trapping, live trapping, and hand shovel excavation of tortoises as well as their marking, transport, and release. Course B also provides substantial information on gopher tortoise habitat and management for recipient sites. Typical Course Cost – $600.
Combo Course is a four day course which combines both Course A and Course B. This course structure is the most popular for students by far. Typical Course Cost – $1200.
Course C: Mechanical Excavation is a two to three day course on using a backhoe to excavate tortoises. Course C is taught to small groups only, and only when a permitted gopher tortoise relocation project is available (through us or the prospective student’s organization). Typical Course Cost – variable.
Open Courses and Registration Information
You can sign up for either an open enrollment course or a private course by simply emailing your interest to our Project Manager, Lance Arvidson, at email@example.com. We typically have open enrollment courses two to four times per year.
Another option is to schedule a private course. This option is best for you if you have more than 3 individuals that need training or you need the timing and/or location of the course to be on your own terms. All of our courses can be scheduled in this way, for single individuals to large groups. These courses vary in price with the number of students and the location. Please contact our Project Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.