An article came to my attention this morning. It is about the desert tortoises in Nevada.
From the Washington Post: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.
I spent my morning calling around, looking to find more information on how to help. I finally got in touch with BLM. They said that they, along with other entities, are trying their best to get more funds and to better the situation. They are working on releasing the healthy tortoises back to the wild. Those who have worked with animals will know that this is not an easy task. The tortoises will have to undergo a lot of tests and examinations to make sure they are fit to be released. Many captive desert tortoises carry infectious bacterias, germs, and viruses that can harm the native population. This is why they have to be extra careful in selecting ones that can be released.
They are also looking for adoptable homes for the healthy tortoises that were dropped off to the center as a pet. If you know people who can take care of them, please spread the words. The number to call: 702-384-3333 ext. 131. Address: 655 N Mojave Road, Las Vegas NV 89101 11 am – 7 pm daily.
BLM representative that I talked to mentioned that they possibly have about 17000-20000 tortoises there. This number is not confirmed but a mere estimate. Washington post mentioned that they have 1400 inhabitants. Perhaps the BLM representative mistyped an extra digit but whatever the number is, we can all agree that it’s quite a large number.
Unfortunatelly, they have a lot of tortoises with upper respiratory tract infection that is infectious and can quickly developed into chronic or acute pneumonia if not treated. Tortoises with this infection is not fit to be adopted or released back to the wild not only because they are unhealthy but also because they can spread the infection and put the native population in danger.
They are working to find other ways than euthanasia, but looking at the total number of tortoises and the number of unhealthy tortoises. Perhaps euthanasia is inevitable. Hopefully we can help reduce that number and help as many tortoises as we can.
Call 702-384-3333 ext 131 if you can help by adopting a tortoise. You need to be able to provide a healthy environment for the tortoise. For more info on how to care for a captive tortoise: http://www.azgfd.gov/w_c/captive_tortoise_care.shtml