The federal government has revealed plans to shut down the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center in Nevada. This is an unsettling move that would require the removal and relocation of up to 1,400 captive desert tortoises into wild tortoise populations.
The concern is desert tortoises held in captivity are usually not equipped to survive in the wild. This also puts the wild, healthy desert tortoises at risk -- as the captive population can bring disease, become a competing source for food and shelter, and attract predators.
Desert tortoises once roamed across the deserts of the Southwestern United States. In recent years, some estimates show their population has plummeted by as much as 90 percent, due to poaching, disease and habitat destruction.
Because of this rapid population decline, the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center has served an important role as a place where America’s displaced and injured desert tortoises could be cared for in a secure environment.
Act now! Urge Interior Secretary Jewell to help prevent a catastrophe for these threatened animals – and find a way to keep this center open.