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Act of the Georgia General Assembly designating the Gopher Tortoise as the official state reptile


Act of the Georgia General Assembly

March 30, 1989

STATE GOVERNMENT—GOPHER TORTOISE; DESIGNATION AS OFFICIAL STATE REPTILE.

Code Section 50-3-63 Enacted.

No. 375 (House Bill No. 531).

AN ACT

To amend Article 3 of Chapter 3 of title 50 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to other state symbols, so as to designate the gopher tortoise as the official state reptile; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

WHEREAS, the gopher tortoise (gopherus polyphemus) belongs to a group of land tortoises that originated in North America 60 million years ago, thus making it one of the oldest living species native to Georgia; and

WHEREAS, the gopher tortoise population is scattered throughout the southeastern United States, with most being found in southern Georgia and north central Florida; and

WHEREAS, the gopher tortoise benefits the ecology by digging burrows up to 40 feet long and 10 feet deep which provides year-round shelter from predators and weather for more than three dozen other animal species, including some threatened species; and

WHEREAS, recent studies indicate that the gopher tortoise population is in decline due to mankind’s activities, and that by the year 2000 the gopher tortoise may not exist outside of protected areas; and

WHEREAS, this ancient and ecologically beneficial reptile is deserving of the attention and appreciation of the citizens of this state by designation as the official state reptile.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF GEORGIA:

Section 1. Article 3 of Chapter 3 of Title 50 of the Official Code of Georgia annotated, relating to other state symbols, is amended by adding a new Code Section 50-3-63 at the end thereof to read as follows:

“50-3-63. The gopher tortoise is designated as the official Georgia state reptile.”

Section 2. All laws and parts of laws in conflict with this Act are repealed.

Approved March 30, 1989.

Ga. Laws 1989, pp. 297-298.