The project is conducted into 4 Phases:
Establish propagation in controlled environment to reverse the decline of the Texas Tortoise
- Secure fencing on native lands within the nature center
- Establish breeding quarters
- Texas Parks / US Fish to house confiscations
- Minimum of 20 genetically diverse pairs
- 5 to 6 years max for one bloodline
- Natural water source
- Natural vegetation
- Establish studbook registry
- Data collection- medical screening and swabs
- Range mapping
- Genetic samples of wild specimens
- Size, estimated age, sex ratios, and research habitat in the wild
- Tracking and logging specimens found
Phase 3 Relocating To Select Habitats
Establish a committee with TX Parks
Establish suitable relocation sites for a soft and hard release – medical screening of babies
Organize all the data collected
Pit tagging and radio tracking
Survival management, log updates and periodic tracking
The Texas Tortoise (Gopherus Berlandieri) is found in Northeastern Mexico and along the Southern Texas border. The purpose of this project is to initiate a diverse understanding and population markers for this threatened species in the state of Texas. The Texas Tortoise has been listed threatened since 1977 and has declined rapidly since the inception of being protected. Civilians continually poach, harbor and possess this species within the state of Texas. Law enforcement agencies have been confiscating these poached specimens for decades, but once in captivity they cannot be re-released back into the wild, so suitable facilities for holdings are needed. Our facility is a perfect location for suitable holding, and our hope is to initiate a relocation and tracking program for approved confiscated animals.
Methods proposed for captive reintroduction into select locations requires many strict protocols. Reintroduction will greatly benefit future data collection that is currently missing, such as anatomy, repopulation, and territorial mapping of this species. This project will entail working with cooperative law enforcement of confiscated animals placed into captive breeding programs.
A breeding program will include: genome testing, diseases, and the ability for captive breeding for wild release or select relocation of offspring.
Captive-confiscated specimens of any animal cannot be safely released back into the wild. Establishing a threshold for relocating captive animals is crucial to the already threatened species, and we propose that relocating the Texas Tortoise into a secured and selected natural habitat is imperative for offsetting the decline from threatened to Endangered within its natural habitat. This project will provide new data via research collected from released specimens from juvenile to adult.
Radio tracking, pit tagging, and controlled relocation sites will allow for the best results of new data.
Perimeter fencing for captive secure breeding facility including native flora and necessary elements for adaptation.
Concrete for ponds.
Divider Material for separation pens.
Field measuring devices, scales, medical testing equipment (Vials, Syringes, Swabs, Gloves etc.)
Our site chosen for the breeding facility includes 100’ linear depth (from east to west) by 400’ Linear feet north to south fenced in protected wild kept enclosures. Divider pens will be constructed after perimeter fencing is installed along with pathways and water source ponds. Each enclosure will be 40 linear feet wide and 40’ deep with pathways in the middle for research, observation and educational visitors from schools, universities and cooperative institutions.
1000’ Linear feet of chain link fencing with 2 access gates;
1000’ Linear feet of footing for security at base of perimeter enclosures;
20- concrete cast permanent ponds;
485’ linear feet of water line for hose spigot to fill/change ponds;
2480’ linear feet of divider panels for each habitat.
Pit tagging and GPS tracking are crucial tools needed for data collection and new research pertaining to the species behavior, and the mapping of range coverage. GPS/GSM trackers will make it easy to find specimens relocated into select habitats, and to collect measuring and observatory input data on a quarterly basis.
This information will also provide nesting data, and a log of predators. Furthermore, the education foundry for this material will be more organized and beneficial to document the current unknowns about this species.
Items necessary for tracking and GPS controls:
20-pit tags, tagging gun
40-GSM/GPS tracking tags
Strict protocols must be followed for the procurement of new data, findings, and successes of this project. Therefore, a committee consisting of representatives from Texas Parks and Wildlife, United States Fish and Wildlife, and GREEN Wildlife Center will be critical for this project.
The purpose of this committee is to establish continuous checks and balances for the specimens suitable for relocation. The committee will also have a 3rd party DVM to ensure the GREEN release parameters for medical screenings and observations for suitable specimens being selectively relocated. Each specimen will be tagged, numbered and registered in a studbook system for this species that GREEN will manage and update.
- Meet quarterly with meeting minutes, project progress and updated findings;
- Update parameters of ongoing project;
- Enforce project standards;
- Underwrite and update studbook;
- Review and agree on specimens entered into studies for genetic diversity;
- Select sites for specimen relocation;
- Publish findings and current research data;
- Publish updated project status.
A secure home site will be constructed at the facility of GREEN Wildlife Center per Texas Parks and Wildlife requirements under the supervision of GREEN’s staff and qualified keepers. All specimens from confiscated backgrounds that are not suitable for relocation will be medically screened, and, if applicable, placed in the studbook for captive reproduction.
Any offspring ready for selected relocation will be logged, pit tagged and radio tracked. Release into approved, secured sites will continue to provide controlled data. The site at GREEN Wildlife Center will have video surveillance, education programs for public schools and collegian institutions. Education is a primary objective for this project.
On-going research will include:
- mating behavior,
- territorial display,
- sexual dimorphism of species.
- captive diet versus wild foraging,
- age of sexual maturity,
- age of mortality
Secured Site breeding facility will include:
- 20 enclosures with pairings of genetically diverse specimens to founder the studbook system;
- Pit tag and medical screening area for pre-release subjects;
- Perimeter fencing for protection against vandalism, predators, and escapees;
- 24-hour monitoring and data collection of species habits, copulation, and adaptation information for future research.
The Committee will select relocation sites suitable for chosen specimens and will maintain those monitoring the sites for research data providing an average of 5-6 years of data input compared to first release data. Radio and GPS tracking will allow the Committee to determine if the selected location is successful.
How to Help
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