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Celebrate Gopher Tortoises at Circle B


Last updated 4/8/2019 at 12:51pm

The environmental lands team at Circle B Bar Reserve is looking for volunteers to help celebrate Gopher Tortoise Day on Wednesday, April 10.

The event starts from 8-11 a.m. with a gopher tortoise survey. The public can volunteer to gather data about the tortoise population by participating in a survey crew. Participants will track the tortoises by radio through the uplands, find the burrows and collect information on the numbered tortoises.

Volunteers are asked to wear outdoor clothing and closed toed shoes and bring a refillable water bottle.

A Tortoise Tails presentation will run from 11 a.m. to noon April 10 in the workshop building. The presentation takes people behind the scenes to explore the research going on at Circle B, along with statewide efforts to continue to protect gopher tortoises and their habitats. The next Tortoise Tails presentation is scheduled for 9-11 a.m. Saturday, April 27. Following the presentations, visitors can take an excursion to the active gopher tortoise burrow area on property.

The presentation and tour reservations begin on the first working day of each month. To sign up, stop by the reception desk or call (863) 668-4673 ext. 205. Circle B Bar Reserve is located at 4399 Winter Lake Road (SR 540) in Lakeland, north of U.S Hwy 98. Regular hours during daylight savings time are 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Gopher tortoises are considered a keystone species since they dig burrows that provide shelter for at least 360 other animal species. They are threatened by predation and habitat destruction.

Circle B Bar Reserve is more than just a home for relocated gopher tortoises. It also serves as a research center to study their movements, social patterns and health.

The Circle B Bar Reserve, on the northwest shore of Lake Hancock, is a former cattle ranch that today boasts a wide variety of plants and animals. The reserve on 1,267 acres contains several distinct ecosystems. Visitors are almost guaranteed to see alligators in Lake Hancock, often considered the headwaters of the Peace River, which flows more than 100 miles from Polk County southwest to the Gulf of Mexico.

Circle B Bar Reserve is a nature reserve; visitors are asked to help protect the resident wildlife by following some basic rules while visiting. NO pets, NO Balloons and NO Music.

The Polk County Board of County Commissioners and the Southwest Florida Water Management District acquired Circle B Bar Reserve in December 2000, primarily to protect the valuable water and wildlife resources and to restore the Banana Creek marsh system.

For more information on Circle B Bar Reserve, go online to


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