DNR News

SCDNR, Riverbanks Zoo partner for gopher tortoise researchJanuary 24, 2017

Two northern long-eared bats were recently found in Beaufort County. Historically this federally listed species was known to exist only in Upstate South Carolina.  (Photo by Jason Robinson)

Gopher tortoises are protected in South Carolina and are designated as a state endangered species. (Photo by Kyndel McConchie)

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The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) and Riverbanks Zoo & Garden are working together to conduct research that will help to protect South Carolina’s endangered gopher tortoise.

Herpetologists at the zoo are raising nearly 30 tortoise hatchlings that are part of a study being conducted by SCDNR. The eggs, collected from the Aiken Gopher Tortoise Heritage Preserve, hatched at the Savannah River Ecology Lab. They were taken to the zoo back in December, and the tortoises will live at the zoo for the next year until they are ready to be released at the heritage preserve. Once released, SCDNR will track the reptiles’ movements and monitor their activity.

“Reproduction has been observed on the preserve in the form of hatched nests, but very few hatchling or juvenile tortoises have been witnessed at the site,” SCDNR Herpetologist Will Dillman stated. “By following hatchling and yearling tortoises with radio telemetry, we hope to better understand survival at this location and evaluate the use of waif tortoises as a conservation tool.”

Media contact: Kyndel McConchie
Public Information Director
Midlands - Office of Media and Outreach


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