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Managing and Preserving California Desert Areas

July 23, 1988

Many people believe that the desert has an endless amount of desert tortoises. This would give anyone finding one the opportunity to take it home and make a pet out of it, and maybe even paint it a pretty color. However the truth is, once a tortoise has been domesticated, it can never be returned to the desert and expected to live. Painting of their shells has also proven fatal. The tortoise population is so small that authorities have made removing them from the desert against the law, and added them to list of endangered species.

Tortoises holes are sometimes run over. This leaves the tortoise with no place to get out of the hot sun. They also depend on their burrows for hibernation during the cold winter months. Still another problem is people picking up tortoises just to look at them, causing them to lose water and often dehydrate.

Never take tortoises out of the desert. If you find one on a road carry it to safety in the same direction it was moving. Drive only on designated roads.

Call the local Department of Fish and Game if you find an injured tortoise or if you see anyone harming them or removing them from the desert.

JONI S. CLEMMER

Barstow

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