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Here’s why hundreds of desert tortoises

Discussion in 'North American Tortoises (genus Gopherus)' started by Cowboy_Ken, Feb 13, 2017.

  1. Cowboy_Ken

    Cowboy_Ken Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Here’s why hundreds of desert tortoises can be moved off Marine Corps base (California)
    The Press Enterprise, by David Danelski, Feb. 8, 2017.

    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.

    The move still needs final sign-offs from the Navy and Interior Department officials.

    Marine Corps officials at Twentynine Palms plan to brief Navy Secretariat staff members on the environmental studies, said 1st Lt. Karen Holliday, a base spokeswoman, in an email.

    “A decision from the Navy on the project could be as early as late this week,” her email said.

    The timing of the approval is important because tortoises spend the cold winter and hot summer months in underground burrows. It is best to move them when they are active and above the ground in the spring or fall. In the spring, it’s generally best to move tortoises between late March and early May, wildlife experts say.

    The move is opposed by environmentalists, who say the imperiled reptiles can’t afford to lose more of their natural range.

    “It is going to be a direct hit on the limited amount of habitat the desert tortoise has left at a time when their numbers are declining,” said Ileene Anderson, a wildlife biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity.

    But military officials have said the use of Johnson Valley for training exercises will enhance national security by expanding the reach of large-scale, live-ammunition operations. Such missions involve three battalions operating in extreme desert heat in real-world warfare conditions

    The analysis by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, called a biological opinion, is an essential step before the relocation effort may start.

    It found that the moved tortoises are expected to survive at the same rates as those that are not moved, said Brian Croft, a biologist and chief of the wildlife service’s West Mojave Desert Division and an author of the analysis.

    Croft added that the BLM land that will receive the tortoises should have enough food resources for the newcomers as well as the tortoises already living in those areas.

    “We looked for places where the population densities were already low,” he said.g

    One potential problem is that the relocated tortoises may be more vulnerable to coyotes.

    The military plans to shoot coyotes if such predation becomes excessive, but they hope such measures are not necessary, Croft said. Coyotes can be legally hunted in California all year long.
  2. Tidgy's Dad

    Tidgy's Dad Well-Known Member

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    Not sure i'm very happy with this.
    Surely the Marine Corps could find an alternative place to blow things up ?
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  3. Kenno

    Kenno Well-Known Member

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    Can we get an estimate of how long these torts have been on this land?
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  4. Kenno

    Kenno Well-Known Member

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    The estimate that moved tortoises would survive at the same rate as non-moved torts does not sound credible, especially if they are expecting increased coyote predation. Am I missing something?
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  5. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    This crap is infuriating. There are millions of square miles of desert where DTs do not live and cannot survive. The areas that are suitable for them are few and far between and getting fewer and farther between every day.

    I am very pro-military and pro-defense of our country, but they can build their damn practice range a few more miles one way or the other, OUTSIDE of suitable DT habitat. I'm all for reducing the populations of coyotes and ravens too. Due to human interference, both of these species have increased their numbers to very unnatural levels and a large percentage of them need to be eradicated before they are allowed to eradicate the DT forever. There are literally 100's of baby DT shells littering the ground under some raven nests. Those ravens in particular, and their offspring, need to be exterminated if we want to continue to see DTs in the wild.
  6. dmmj

    dmmj The member formerly known as captain awesome Moderator 5 Year Member

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    sadly it's just not babies anymore the Ravens are working in groups now to turn over larger and larger tortoises
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  7. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    I had not heard that. Thanks for informing me/us. Not good news.

    I like ravens. Really cool birds, but anytime a wild population explodes into unnatural numbers due to human interference in the world, human's must then interfere again to try to right the situation by bringing the numbers back down to "normal" sustainable numbers. That is my view anyway...
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  8. dmmj

    dmmj The member formerly known as captain awesome Moderator 5 Year Member

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    about 6 or 7 years ago they started noticing larger and larger desert tortoises on their back and pecked to death then one day a biologist studying the desert tortoise just happen Upon A group of ravens flipping over a much larger desert tortoise than just a baby now they find them all over the place. Ravens are very smart birds
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  9. Dave S.

    Dave S. New Member

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    Will these "Homeless" Tortoises be up for adoption anytime soon?
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  10. Cowboy_Ken

    Cowboy_Ken Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Not real likely. And the Ravens are simply doing what they do…eat
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  11. TammyJ

    TammyJ Well-Known Member

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    This is so sad. Again the balance of nature is upended by us humans, we are almost always the guilty party to begin with and then we try to fix it and it cannot be fixed back to what it was. Evolution is a very slow process and its products are perfectly adapted to a particular environment that needs to be preserved!
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  12. BeeBee*BeeLeaves

    BeeBee*BeeLeaves Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Love our military, but this type of thing was complete protected species disaster last time and tortoises were doomed to their deaths. No bueno. Sigh.

    http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-desert-tortoises-20170419-story.html


    More than 1,000 desert tortoises are taking a trip with the Marine Corps this month.

    The military is using helicopters to relocate the tortoises to another part of the Mojave to make way for an expansion of its desert training grounds.

    During the two-week-long process, the hubcap-sized tortoises are being loaded into plastic containers, which are then stacked and strapped to a helicopter.

    Their new home will be swaths of federal land to the north and southeast of the Twentynine Palms base, Marine officials said. The areas were deemed far enough away that the tortoises wouldn’t migrate back to the original habitat.

    National Defense Authorization Act handed land formerly managed by the Bureau of Land Management to the Defense Department. Tortoises living on that land are now being moved.


    In March 2016, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice of intent to sue, arguing that the federal government failed to fully examine how the move might harm the tortoises.

    However, the move went ahead this month after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service told the Marine Corps that its review wouldn’t be done before the spring window for the move, Marine Corps officials said.

    It’s not the first time that the Corps has been in the tortoise-moving business.

    In 2006, the Twentynine Palms base relocated 17 adult tortoises in order to build a training range. Marine officials say no tortoises died during three years of post-move monitoring.

    This time, Marine Corps biologists will monitor tortoises intensely for the first five years. Then monitoring requirements will diminish over time until the 30-year obligation is met, officials said.

    About 235 juveniles too small for relocation are being admitted to the base’s “head start facility,” where they will remain until they grow large enough to better survive on their own.
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  13. Gopherus Guy

    Gopherus Guy Member

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    Who would you rather see go extinct?
    Trump or an innocent Tortoise?,
    I think most of you agree with me!
  14. TammyJ

    TammyJ Well-Known Member

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    Since you have not actually expressed an opinion, but asked a question, we cannot "agree" with you...
    But....not getting into any political stuff here, right!
    I love tortoises, though, that's for sure.
  15. Greta16

    Greta16 Active Member

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    I just hope they make it. It sounds like nothing is going to stop this. Throw in 'National Security' and it's a no-no to argue.
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  16. BeeBee*BeeLeaves

    BeeBee*BeeLeaves Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    No politics. But. Respectfully disagree. I kept tabs on the last administration and the cahooters. Harry Reid is on my list. He ordered the deaths of thousands of protected, beloved We the People owned desert tortoises because they were in the way of his son's solar deal with a Chinese company. Glad the Vegas mooks popped him one because he also reneged a deal with them. Also, wind farms, as an environmentalist, are horrific for our protected birds. American eagles killed by them. Huge numbers. Media to make us aware of what was done to wildlife?

    Crickets. Shhhhhh. Hush. Hush.
  17. motero

    motero Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    "Congress in 2013 added some 88,000 acres of the valley area to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms."
    What did trump have to do with this?
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  18. surfergirl

    surfergirl Well-Known Member

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    They are just going through motions on this and will certainly do what they want with anything they have an interest in without a conscience about it. They are moving them to an area with a low population. Duh, why is there a low population there? Since they are thriving on the land they want we will move them to a place with a low survival rate?
    I understand the need for national security, however there are win...win options if we put as much passion in finding that solution than just rationalizing takinv the easy way out and move the dts before may....
  19. JoesMum

    JoesMum Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    One of the best wildlife conservation areas for all types of wildlife in the UK is Salisbury Plain. It's been the major military training zone in the UK forever... tanks, missiles, the lot...

    Conservation and the military can live in harmony if they try.
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  20. BeeBee*BeeLeaves

    BeeBee*BeeLeaves Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Good reference about Salisbury Plain. Thank you.

    As always, with these things, put on your activist cap and take the time to write a letter with your concerns, your view, your ideas. Send it to the highest level and to your representative, both. I always send my letters certified. It helps to get them noticed. You would be surprised how effective certified snail mail can be. Sometimes the old ways are the best. Write on!
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