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Man sparks discontent after sharing disheartening before-and-after images of tortoise habitat destruction: 'This is heartbreaking'

"Isn't there anything that can be done?"

"Isn't there anything that can be done?"

Photo Credit: iStock

A distressing clip has caught the attention of environmentalists online. The clip focuses on the dire state of federally protected species in Florida and the development that is responsible for destroying their homes.

The primary protagonist of the video is the gopher tortoise, a species found only in the Southeastern United States and primarily in Florida. The images displayed show tortoise burrows being destroyed for new development, which the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says is the primary threat to their survival.

This post from Dna Reptiles (@dna_reptiles) on TikTok demonstrates how gopher tortoise habitats were destroyed by suburban development and how the FWC failed to get involved. 

@dna_reptiles Gopher tortoises are being killed on a massive scale #gophertortoise #tortoise #florida #fyp #nature #educational #habitatdestruction ♬ Shield of Faith - Spiritual Warfare Music Epic

"Most likely all of the tortoises that lived in this area are now dead," he narrates over footage of devastated ground prepared by construction equipment. 

He goes on to speak about how overdevelopment and the habitat loss and fragmentation that comes with it as one of the biggest dangers for animals across the state, and evidence gathered by Florida Humanities supports his statement.

He mentions that gopher tortoises are keystone species that support the ecosystem by offering shelter to over 350 kinds of fauna that shelter in their burrows during fires.

He also details how the board of commissioners of the FWC is occupied by people like Rodney Barretto, who is the head of his own real estate and development firm.

As detailed in the video, habitat destruction is the biggest threat that exists for a variety of species around the world.

Animals are evolved to occupy niches within highly calibrated ecosystems, and when they are altered or destroyed, the critters who rely on them often struggle to find a way to survive. As global heating and human interference reduce biodiversity, these ecosystems become more fragile and their residents more susceptible to endangerment and extinction

Fragmentation — the division of an animal's natural range by development — also makes it a necessity for animals to cross busy roads with cars traveling at high speeds. This had led to increasing animal fatalities by cars on Florida's highways. 

According to these organizations, sprawling suburban development is destroying and dividing crucial habitat for unique species of animals as Florida's population grows. What's worse, it seems regulatory, and conservation agencies are being thrust aside by the power and investment of realtors and development firms.

Commenters on the post were enraged and looking for solutions.

One wrote, "When has man ever stopped his exploitation to consider anything else?"

Another provided more context and an action point: "Split Oak, which has tortoises, is on the agenda at the December commission meeting."

The top commenter captured the feeling and posed the question we should all be asking: "This is heartbreaking. Isn't there anything that can be done to regulate the destruction?"

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