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May 27, 2014

Digging Up Dirt – to Expose Cruelty, and to Help Tortoises

Last week in Florida, we hosted a remarkable HSUS Animal Care Expo – a signature event held principally for animal care professionals throughout the nation.

GOPHER_TORTOISE
Nicole Paquette, Vice President of Wildlife Protection for The HSUS, holds a gopher tortoise rescued at a construction site in Apopka, Florida.
Photo: Julie Busch Branaman

But we were also hard at work in the field in the Sunshine State.  Our staff and volunteers were unearthing threatened gopher tortoises at a construction site in Apopka, Florida, to avert an imminent tragedy. Rather than crush or bury the animals alive in their burrows, the developer chose to work with The HSUS to dig out and relocate the defenseless animals.

Carefully digging deep to reach these gentle creatures in their nest chambers -- which can be found up to 20 feet underground -- is a tedious task. But with years of experience, our wildlife team gets the job done.  Since the tortoise rescue efforts started in 2006, we’ve rescued more than 4,000 tortoises from being entombed and relocated them to Nokuse Plantation, a wildlife preserve.

The George V. Hand Jr. Tractor Service, which has specialized in gopher tortoise excavation for almost 20 years, has partnered with us from the beginning to help dig out the tortoises. We are also working with the state wildlife agency, developers, environmental consultants, private businesses, local governments, foundations, biologists and average citizens, all coming together and providing solutions for wildlife-human conflicts.

It was, in all, a pretty remarkable week for us, a reminder to our supporters and adversaries alike that The HSUS is uniquely suited to conduct rescue and reform efforts on an extraordinary scale, on a wide range of issues.

Here are a few more of our other takeaway successes from last week.

Every week, you can count on The HSUS to drive reforms forward, saving lives and getting results. 

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