Since July 7, 1987, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has listed Gopher tortoise as "Threatened" wherever the tortoises are found west of the Mobile and Tombigbee Rivers in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Its status is listed as "Under Review" in Florida and in other locations. On November 9, 2009, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed rulemaking to include the eastern population of Gopherus polyphemus in the List of Threatened Wildlife. G. polyphemus appears on the IUCN Red List as a "Vulnerable" species; however, it has not been assessed for the purposes of this list since 1996. In July 2011, United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) determined that listing the eastern population of the tortoise as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act is warranted, however, it is precluded from doing so at this time due to higher priority actions and a lack of sufficient funds to commence proposed rule development. In the interim period of time the USFWS will place the eastern population of the tortoise on its candidate species list until sufficient funding is available to initiate a proposed listing rule.The University of Florida Conservation Clinic Center for Governmental Responsibility Levin College of Law describe five main threats to the tortoise population, they are: (1) Habitat loss through human development, (2) habitat loss through poor supervision, (3) human desire to use it as a pet or meat, (4) relocation causing population disruption, and (5) disease caused by relocation.Hudson, Blake (Fall 2007) "PROMOTING AND ESTABLISHING THE RECOVERY OF ENDANGERED SPECIES ON PRIVATE LANDS: A CASE STUDY OF THE GOPHER TORTOISE." Duke Environmental Law and Policy Forum. Duke University School of Law.Gopher tortoises are known as a keystone species. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission states the gopher tortoise provides refuge for as many as 350 to 400 species. The burrows are used for feeding, resting, reproduction, and protection from temperature extremes, moisture loss, and predators. These species include gopher frogs (Rana capito), several species of snake, such as the eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon couperi), small invertebrates, and burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia). Therefore, conservation efforts focused on the gopher tortoise aid these species as well. Conversion of gopher tortoise habitat to urban areas, croplands, and pasture, along with adverse forest management practices, has drastically reduced the historic range of the gopher tortoise. The taking of gopher tortoises for sale or use as food or pets has also had a serious effect on some populations. The seriousness of the loss of adult tortoises is magnified by the length of time required for tortoises to reach maturity and their low reproductive rate. According to the website of the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, Florida, current estimates of human predation and road mortality alone are at levels that could offset any annual addition to the population, and sightings of gopher tortoises have become rare in many areas, and the ones sighted are much smaller than in the past. A number of other species also prey upon gopher tortoises, including the raccoon, which is the primary egg and hatchling predator, gray foxes, striped skunks, nine-banded armadillos, dogs, and snakes. Red imported fire ants also have been known to prey on hatchlings. A 1980 report indicated clutch and hatchling losses often approach 90 percentIn the past, approximately 83,955 gopher tortoises were incidentally taken (destroyed) and 137,759 acres of gopher tortoise habitat was permitted for development (citation required Mrykalo et al. 2010) in Florida as developers could acquire Incidental Take Permits to build in the gopher tortoises' natural habitat. The state addressed the situation on July 31, 2007, implementing a new policy requiring developers to relocate tortoises. Starting on April 22, 2009, three types of permits were available in Florida for developers wishing to build on gopher tortoise habitat. Two of these permits allow for the relocation of gopher tortoises, either to some other place on the site being used for construction, or to a recipient site which has been certified by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The third type of permit allows for temporary relocation of tortoises while major utility lines are installed. In the third case, the tortoises are returned to their habitat after construction is complete.In Mississippi, along State Route 63, chain link fences were built to prevent gopher tortoise mortality from traffic. These fences, made from heavy gauge wire for durability, are three feet high and are buried one foot below the surface. The fences have "turnarounds" at either end, which are angled fences that redirect tortoises back into the area from which they come. As of 2003, no roadside gopher tortoise deaths had been reported along Route 63 since the construction of the fences.