Phil Buchanan and Patty Walker, window clerk at the St. James City Post Office, released "Bondo," a male gopher tortoise, last Thursday.
"We don't know how long he has been living here," Buchanan said. "But he's been here a long time. Patty Walker discovered him one day with a cracked shell and it appeared he had an infection. We think he was hit by a car."
The gopher tortoise is a species of tortoise native to the southeastern United States. They are seen as a "keystone species" because they have a disproportionally large effect on their environment. These tortoises dig burrows that provide shelter for more than 300 other animals.
Patty Walker, left, and Phil Buchanan release Bondo near the St. James City Post Office.
According to "The Nature Lovers Guide to Pine Island" by Buchanan: "The gopher tortoise is one of the most threatened species on Pine Island. Their numbers are getting low for two main reasons: 1. They get hit by cars on Stringfellow with discouraging regularity, and 2. Their habitat, high dry ground, is the same habitat preferred by housing developers."
"I hope everyone pays attention to this," Walker said. "People need to remember these tortoises are out there. Now we have a sign to remind everyone that Bondo and his partner are here so use caution whenever coming to the Post Office and be careful all over the island."