Wednesday, February 08, 2017

1,500 desert tortoises to be helicoptered off military base

Plans by the Marine Corps to move as many as 1,500 desert tortoises from a Twentynine Palms training base expansion area have cleared a major hurdle.Federal wildlife officials based in Palm Springs have completed an analysis that found that moving the reptiles, which are listed as threatened with extinction, wouldn’t jeopardize the survival of the species. The finding puts the Marines on track to move the tortoises out of the Johnson Valley this spring so they can use the land for live-ammunition training missions with tanks and ground troops. Congress in 2013 added some 88,000 acres of the valley area to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms. Tortoises have been moved from military and solar development sites in the past, but the Twentynine Palms endeavor would be the largest such move ever in the Mojave Desert, say wildlife officials. Biologists plan to capture the animals and transport them by helicopters to Bureau of Land Management areas outside the combat center’s new boundaries. Most of the tortoises already have had radio transmitters affixed to their shells so they can be more easily located...more

No cost figures are reported in the article, but I can't help but wonder what the cost per tortoise is for this entire operation.

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