Welcome to the Gopher Tortoise Waif/ Health Working Group!


The 2014 Gopher Tortoise Health and Waif Working Group meeting will be held on Thursday, October 16 from 2:00 - 5:30 p.m. at the Merry Acres Inn  (1500 Dawson Rd, Albany, GA, 31707). The meeting will be held in conjunction with the 36th Annual Gopher Tortoise Council Meeting. There is no cost to participate in Health/Waif Working group meeting other than any travel/lodging costs you may incur. The meeting agenda can be accessed here


Meeting objectives are as follows and focus primarily on waif tortoises and include health topics: 

  • To discuss/review current state policies and procedures for waif tortoises
  • Identify gaps and/or differences in handling waif tortoises
  • Consider suggestions for standardizing policies and procedures among states
  • Discuss emerging gopher tortoise health issues
  • Identify protocols for handling sick/waif tortoises
  • Identify best avenue for range-wide coordination/collaboration
  • Discuss development of online portal of resources

Other priorities that the group is working to address include:  

Database Creation

**** If you have surveillance data you would like to add to the database, please email it to jgonynor 'at' gmail.com. 

Establish a Morbidity/Mortality Database to which people report gopher tortoise observations.

  • Establish a serology database to aid in range-wide disease mapping.
  • Ante mortem health assessment and postmortem data bases.

*Purpose will be to track trends and map occurrence to keep biologists/ land managers aware (important with employee turn-over and loss of institutional memory)


Develop a response plan for tortoise mortality

Identify facilities/ researchers willing to perform necropsies and diagnostics.

  • Contact and update list provided in Wendland et al. 2009.
  • Who can/is willing do what at their lab?


Develop/ distribute consistent protocols for sample collection

  • Collaborate with pathologists to send samples to
  • Need a list of necropsy costs (e.g., http://labs.vetmed.ufl.edu/files/2012/03/STNecropsyReport.pdf and http://labs.vetmed.ufl.edu/sample-requirements/zoo-med-infections/sea-turtle-necropsy-biopsy/) 

Education about pathogens

  • Partner with SEPARC Disease Task Team with their current efforts)


Help develop plans for tortoise relocation

  • Protocol for addressing Mycoplasma positive tortoises and other disease issues during relocation. Also includes waif tortoises.


If you don't have a gmail account, and do not want one, please email Jess and she will give you a generic sign-in (this option available to members only). 

photo: J. McGuire 2012 please do not use without permission 

Website maintained by Jessica McGuire jgonynor@gmail.com