On our 10 acres, there are approximately a dozen gopher tortoise burrow entrances. I'm not sure how many tortoises that translates into, but I'm guessing that at least 8 gophers live here.
The land is sandy and high, by Florida standards ... what we call a "hammock". The entire 10 acres is a patchwork of forest and open area due to the cows that grazed it before we bought it in 1986. There is an abundance of edge, which generally benefits all the critters, but the gophers require open areas. The sunny glades allow the grasses and forbs to grow in abundance. These are the gopher's food of choice.
Gophers are a protected species here in Florida. They have the misfortune to be gentle, harmless, slow, and delicious. They also require the same type of dry well drained land that developers crave for their cookie cutter jampacked housing blight.
While I protect my gophers today, I have to take some of the blame for their demise through my long, cultural and familial ties with Florida. My Minorcan ancestors developed a taste for gopher stew as soon as they arrived and all the way up through my teens, it was a common food in many St. Augustine households. I remember reading a Florida Wildlife magazine article once in which the state specifically mentioned the Minorcan population of St. Augustine and New Symrna as one factor in the gopher's decline.
For decades now, the gopher has had legal protection. There are still poachers of course, but that has dropped off the radar as a primary threat.
There is a respiratory disease that is killing them in certain areas. It came from the exotic tortoise pet trade and is an excellent reason for not moving gophers from one area to another ... plus you can get into legal trouble even if you think you are being a good samaritan.