X

Endangered US Tortoises to Be Euthanized

Funding for Las Vegas-area conservation center dries up
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Suggested by Ghille
Posted Aug 26, 2013 6:38 AM CDT
Endangered US Tortoises to Be Euthanized
In this Aug 22, 2013 photo, research associate Pamela Flores conducts a health assessment on a Desert Tortoise at the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center in Las Vegas.   (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

(Newser) – For decades, the vulnerable US desert tortoise has led a sheltered existence on a sprawling conservation reserve outside Las Vegas. But the pampered desert dweller now faces a threat from the very people who have nurtured it. 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. Officials will determine which of the 1,400 inhabitants are hearty enough to release into the wild; more than half are likely to be euthanized in the coming months in preparation for closure at the end of 2014.

story continues below

The Bureau of Land Management has paid for the facility with fees imposed on developers who disturb tortoise habitat on public land. As the housing boom swept through southern Nevada in the 2000s, the tortoise budget swelled. But when the recession hit, the housing market contracted, and the bureau and its local government partners began struggling to meet the center's $1 million annual budget. "With the money going down and more and more tortoises coming in, it never would have added up," says a BLM spokeswoman. No more than 100,000 tortoises are thought to survive in the habitat where millions once burrowed across parts of Utah, California, Arizona, and Nevada. Click for more on the once-abundant creatures, which at one point were scooped up as souvenirs. (Read more tortoise stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
X
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.

X