As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit conservation organization, part of our mission is to share accurate and up-to-date information with environmental professionals who work hands-on with threatened and endangered species. Wildlands Conservation offers Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission-approved training courses that meet the requirements for the Authorized Gopher Tortoise Agent permit.
Our instructors are experts in gopher tortoise biology, permitting, relocation, and research, including Dr. Henry Mushinsky, a Professor Emeritus in Biology and former Graduate Director of the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of South Florida (pictured above). He has served as an advisor and a collaborator with Wildlands since the organization’s inception in 2003, and is currently the Chair of Wildlands’ Board of Directors. Henry has published over 120 papers on Florida’s indigenous herpetofauna, habitat restoration, and Florida ecology, as well as co-authored the leading text on North American tortoises, Biology and Conservation of North American Tortoises.
Wildlands provides the courses below:
- GT1000: Gopher Tortoise Ecology & FWC Permitting Guidelines
- No authorization provided, but a prerequisite for the following courses.
- GT2000: Survey Techniques for Development Sites
- Successful Completion results in the authorization to conduct Gopher Tortoise Surveys.
- GT2500: Capture and Transport of Gopher Tortoises
- Successful Completion results in the authorization to transport and capture tortoises via Bucket Trap, Live Trap, and Hand Shovel Excavation.
- GT3000: Recipient Site Surveys, Monitoring, and Management
- Successful Completion results in the authorization to Mark, Transport, and Release tortoises.
- GT4000: Supervision of Burrow Excavations Using Mechanical Equipment**
- Successful Completion results in a reduction in experience required from the supervision of 50 burrow excavations and capture of 20 tortoises to 30 burrow excavations and 12 tortoise captures.
- **Only taught to small groups in conjunction with a permitted gopher tortoise relocation project. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- Combination A – Introductory Authorized Agent Training (GT1000 & GT2000): A four-day course which introduces students to tortoise biology, permitting, and surveys. Successful completion of this course will allow students to conduct surveys, but they will be unable to apply for gopher tortoise relocation permits without an authorized capture method.
- Combination B – Basic Authorized Agent Training (GT1000, GT2000 & GT2500): A five-day course which covers all of the requirements to become an Authorized Gopher Tortoise Agent to conduct surveys, submit permit applications for relocation projects (10 or Fewer Burrow Permits, Conservation Permits, and Disturbed Site Permits only), capture tortoises (using bucket or live traps, or hand shovel excavation), and transport tortoises.
- Infraction Courses: Offered on a case-by-case basis depending on the infraction.
- For more information about our courses, please view our Full Course Descriptions.
The Wildlife Society has approved the following Continuing Education Units (CEUs) in Category I of the Certified Wildlife Biologist® Renewal/ Professional Development Certificate Program for the successful completion of the following Wildlands Conservation gopher tortoise authorized agent training courses:
- Ecology and Natural History of Gopher Tortoise: 5 CEUs
- Gopher Tortoise Permitting Process and Guidelines: 5 CEUs
- Gopher Tortoise Survey Techniques: 7 CEUs
- Gopher Tortoise Capture Procedures: 5 CEUs
- Gopher Tortoise Marking, Transport, and Release: 3 CEUs
- Gopher Tortoise Recipient Site Permitting and Habitat: 9.5 CEUs
- Mechanical Excavation of Gopher Tortoise Burrows: 7.5 CEUs
Participants can count up to 42 CEUs for the full training.
Available Courses and Registration
October 19–23, 2020 at Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park in Pasco County, Florida. REGISTRATION CLOSED!
Private, group and custom classes are available. Wildlands also provides informational courses (non-authorized agent courses) to organizations interested in learning about gopher tortoise biology and the laws protecting tortoises. Please contact email@example.com for more information.
* *Please note that the cost of these courses does NOT include the separate $544 mitigation contribution charged by FWC upon submission of the application to become an Authorized Gopher Tortoise Agent.