For those unaware, late last year a sick looking Gopher Tortoise was found at Highlands Hammock State Park (HHSP). After months of testing and research, FWC veterinarians determined that this Gopher Tortoise had contracted the Fraser Virus. This virus is typically found in soft shelled freshwater turtles and this was the first case of it being found in a Gopher Tortoise. Little is known about the virus or how it transferred to a Gopher Tortoise at this moment. Monica Rendon, the Park Biologist at Highlands Hammock State Park, has been working really hard to learn more about what is going and how to help our Gopher Tortoise population. And she needs our assistance! From July 8th - July 12th, FWC representatives will be at Highlands Hammock to conduct research (blood samples, water samples, soil samples, etc). The goal is to locate and test at least 100 tortoises within these dates listed above. We are looking for volunteers to help locate, trap, and transport tortoises from various areas in the park to the testing site they set up within HHSP. All training and safety equipment will be provided. Although this is a sad situation, I think it is a really cool opportunity for Ridge Rangers to be involved from the ground level and up to help learn more about what is going on with our local Gopher Tortoise population. It is a chance to not only help FWC and HHSP, but to be part of a research study from its very beginning and understand how research processes like this happen. You don't have to participate every single day of the surveying if you're not available, any free time that you have to come and help out is greatly appreciated!