More Endangered Than Most

Desert tortoise populations have declined up to 90% in recent decades due to human activities such as housing developments, energy development and grazing.  They spend up to 95% of their time in burrows, where they may get trapped or succumb to heat if the burrow collapses due to a vehicle or large animal.  They like sandy soil, and when visiting sand dunes people can cause these collapses.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages endangered species, and many desert tortoises are on land administered by the Bureau of Land Management.  A center was established by the BLM to care for desert tortoises, mainly surrendered pets.  

In the last 2 days some many news reports have falsely implied that the BLM was euthanizing the protected wild tortoises.  The misrepresentation of fact must be intentional, since the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center clarified the situation in a press release months ago.

Aug 26, 2013
Statement Regarding Media Reports on Status of Desert Tortoise at the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center in Nevada
Recent media reports regarding the status of desert tortoises at the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center (DTCC) have implied that the FWS is currently euthanizing desert tortoises at the facility. We want the public to know that the FWS is not euthanizing healthy tortoises.
The DTCC was established in 1990 to receive wild tortoises in harm’s way from development and has taken in unwanted pets since 1996. Over 1,000 tortoises arrived at the DTCC each year, and approximately 98 percent of those are surrendered or stray pets. Science-based protocols developed for desert tortoises brought to the DTCC have been instrumental in helping the FWS maintain a healthy population of desert tortoise in the wild. Managing to recover desert tortoise, a threatened species, is a complex task in which all options need to be considered, and all risks and benefits to the species must be assessed.
Many pet tortoises, unfortunately, are diseased or otherwise in poor health, and run the risk of spreading disease to wild tortoises. These tortoises cannot be relocated to the wild, or otherwise contribute to recovery of the desert tortoise population. Sometimes euthanasia of unhealthy pet tortoises is necessary, but only as last resort, and only after we evaluate other options. All healthy tortoises at the DTCC will be relocated to sites that will support the recovery of the species.
Progress is being made on translocating the healthy DTCC tortoise population to the wild. A Programmatic Environmental Assessment is complete, and tortoises are already being translocated by the FWS to an approved site in Trout Canyon, Nevada. Public scoping for a second translocation plan was completed Aug 22, 2013, for a proposed translocation area south of Coyote Springs, Nevada.
The Animal Foundation (TAF), Lied Animal Shelter continues to take in unwanted pet tortoises from the public. However, the fact remains that the DTCC does not currently have the capacity or the funding to accept and care for additional tortoises.
Recovery of the desert tortoise in the wild continues to be our top priority. However we are deeply concerned about the growing number of unwanted pets, and will continue to work with our partner agencies toward finding a suitable solution for tortoises that cannot be returned to the wild.
Posted on August 26, 2013

The factual misrepresentations are coming up in a story about a Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy who reportedly owes $1.1M in grazing fees to the BLM, and who following decades of debate over the issue in federal court has been issued court orders starting in 1998 to pay the grazing fees or remove his cattle and to not interfere with removal operations if he fails to remove them himself.  The matter has gained national attention in recent days as people have flocked to the ranch to side with Bundy's resistance to the court orders.  Various political scapegoats are trotted out by media outlets with an agenda to promote, and many of the protesters onsite now resisting federal authorities are reveling in repeating the misinformation.  The incident could turn into quite a sideshow in the coming days.

#bundyranch   #deserttortoise   #mojavedesert  

Fate of an endangered species… this California desert tortoise was more endangered than most

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24 thoughts on “More Endangered Than Most

  1. That's not true at all +Tonia Addison-Hall .  Even +Fox News clarifies that he simply doesn't want to pay grazing fees, and he has had 20 years to fight the matter in court.
    Nevada officials blast feds over treatment of cattle rancher Cliven Bundy

    Who or what gave you the impression that he can't graze his cattle due to the desert tortoise?  As far as I can tell it's one of many lies being told to get people riled up.  It seems to be working, wouldn't you say?

  2. Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System: Google's Solar plant was a welcome by the BLM – So the BLM relocated the same turtles for google… Big Money Talks – Bundy has no money. It's Not About the Turtle Sadly (which needs a protected habitat). This Issue is political.. not environmental. Google's solar plant is frying endangered birds. no one cares. Now it's a turtle. The gov is using endangered animals to tug at us who do care. I'm not sure whats the real reason is – some news reports say, the gov wants to turn that area into a state park with trails and bike/4 wheeler access. Some even say Sen Reid has an eye on a Solar Plant of his own. Fact is Bundy owes money and I think he should pay (crowdfund) even though I disagree with the issue of grazing rights on public land. The gov also stole 900 cattle from Bundy. That's not cool. The Gov is good at making bad decisions. I'm curious to see who wins and who makes a lot of cash from this situation. oh' also look up “Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone and surrounding area's”. Bundy's land falls within its boundary. Its seems the BLM & the Dept. of Energy seem to have plans for more solar energy plants. Maybe Bundy had all the criteria to move forward on such plans… for now, I take a step back and hope no one or animal gets hurt. follow the money… that's my 2 cents…   thanks. 

  3. Environmentalists are praising the government’s forceful actions, which are being taken to protect the “desert tortoise.”

    “We’re heartened and thankful that the agencies are finally living up to their stewardship duty,” said Rob Mrowka, a Nevada-based senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Gold Butte area has been officially designated as critical habitat for threatened tortoises—meaning the area is essential to their long-term survival as a species.”

  4. +Roy Sawyer  The Fox story I referenced said "BLM spokeswoman Kirsten Cannon said agents on Saturday and Sunday rounded up 134 of an estimated 900 trespassing cattle" .  Perhaps the rest were rounded up by now, but is there any evidence that they have been "stolen", not simple removed and impounded until Bundy can move them?  

    I don't have any problem with people exercising their rights if they want to oppose commercial use fees on federal lands (I'd love not to have to pay fees for the photography workshops I lead in national parks), but surely we can have a more productive discussion on the topic if we stick to accurate accounts of what the situation is.

    I'd love to see more detail supporting of the possible backstory on the other projects you mentioned, after all, corruption is rampant in this country these days, but the vague nature of the allegations and the lack of any sort of detail or in-depth investigative report does make me
    skeptical of their accuracy.

  5. Bundy describes himself as simply not following federal laws +Tonia Addison-Hall and his refusal to pay use fees since 1993 resulted in court injunctions starting in 1998:

    "I've got to protect my property," he told The Times last year. "If people come to monkey with what's mine, I'll call the county sheriff. If that don't work, I'll gather my friends and kids and we'll try to stop it. I abide by all state laws. But I abide by almost zero federal laws."
    In 1998, a federal judge issued a permanent injunction against the white-haired rancher, ordering his cattle off the land and setting off a long series of legal filings.,0,1480936.story#axzz2yLVSDgc5

    The 20+ year history of his resistance is summarized here:
    The fight dates  to at least 1993,  since which Bundy has refused to pay the federal government fees for his grazing cows, according to the Los Angeles Times. In 1998, a federal court told Bundy to stop letting his cows graze there. And, last July, the same court reaffirmed that order, giving Bundy 45 days to remove the cows before the federal government would. They started  Saturday, acting on two federal court orders, they said in a statement that day. 
    “The BLM and the [National Park Service] have made repeated attempts to resolve this matter administratively and judicially,” the Nevada BLM statement read. “The agencies are now implementing two Federal District Court orders to remove the cattle. The BLM and NPS are working closely with local, state and federal officials to ensure that removal occurs in a safe and orderly manner.”

    So some grumpy old guy wants to do things like it was still the 1800s, and he refuses to follow any federal laws.  You sure don't get that side of the background in the stories changing the subject to tortoises, the Constitution, or some political figure.

  6. allow me to rebut.

    Federal funds are running out at the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center and officials plan to close the site and euthanize hundreds of the tortoises they've been caring for since the animals were added to the endangered species list in 1990.

    "It's the lesser of two evils, but it's still evil," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service desert tortoise recovery coordinator Roy Averill-Murray during a visit to the soon-to-be-shuttered reserve at the southern edge of the Las Vegas Valley last week.

    Note the date of this article, it's a day before the one you use defending the blm's tortoise preserve, and it's an AP report

  7. Thank you for the quote from "" +Tonia Addison-Hall , but how is Rob Mrowka connected to the story, other than being someone who is quoted as saying he is pleased, to support the claim by Freebeacon that "environmentalists are praising the government’s forceful actions"?

    As far as I can tell, the BLM was asking for commercial use fees, like they do any user profiting off of the use of federal lands.  I use federal lands and pay those fees every year.

    Asking for grazing fees (as nearly all recognizable media outlets report) is not the same as saying 
    "get the cattle off of the land, and keep them off, to benefit tortoises" as you seem to be implying.  

    Even Freebeacon, which describes itself as "Dedicated to uncovering the stories that the professional left hopes will never see the light of day" doesn't actually make the claim that the cattle were being removed to benefit tortoises, but they certainly gave you that impression, didn't they?

  8. There is not enough public information out there,people will not make an effort to find out all the money for stupid commercials could do bedder service to teach people about this and other problems

  9. Thanks +Scott Bruce they freed healthy tortoises, as the story you referenced states: "scientists examined the facility's 1,400 inhabitants to find those hearty enough to release into the wild", the DTCC press release I quoted says the same. 
    The Nevada Tortoise War Is A Right-Wing False Flag
    "The current enforcement has less to do with protecting the tortoise, and more to do with Bundy's refusal to comply with the law or recognize the legitimacy of the federal government."

  10. allow hunting of the wild goats, deer, and mustang horses, which have been increasing in population and are killing other animals.

  11. Species have been going extinct, for centuries and there is always a reason and most of the time it has had nothing to do with anything man has or hasn't done.  It is not man's job to keep this from happening.  People who work hard to make a living, be it farming, ranching, or in the lumber business are tired of the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service acting like they own Public Lands #1, Charging outrageous Fees for the use of Public Lands #2 and putting them out of business to save a turtle or an owl.  Unless you have had to deal with either of these agencies in this capacity you have no idea what a pain in the ass it is.  These lands are PUBLIC meaning the people of the U.S. own them not a government agency and if you do not allow grazing on timber removal they become overgrown and nature deals with this with a fire.  So there can be new growth.  Let the man graze his cattle, don't kill the rancher to save a turtle.

  12. Nice photo BTW, death always makes for a strong image. Someone said the plight of the tortoise in this story is a "right-wing red flag", I agree with half of that statement.

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