U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service won't list Sonoran desert tortoise as endangered

By Alisa Reznick
Published: Tuesday, February 8, 2022 - 11:17am
Updated: Tuesday, February 8, 2022 - 1:23pm

Audio icon Download mp3 (1.15 MB)

desert tortoise
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Desert tortoise.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says after conducting a scientific review, it will not list the Sonoran desert tortoise under the Endangered Species Act. 

The Sonoran desert tortoise roams parts of Arizona and can grow up to 14 inches long. 

Myles Traphagen with the conservation group Wildlands Network says researchers have been focused on the species for a while.

→ These are the animals that are threatened or endangered in Arizona

"In 2008 there were lawsuits filed attempting to get the species listed, and the finding that came out was that the species was what they call warranted but precluded, which means that the Fish and Wildlife Service says 'OK, the species may be having trouble, but there are other, more pressing items," he said. 

It’s part of a group of desert tortoises in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. But unlike its cousin in California, the Mojave desert tortoise, Traphagen says this  population is more stable. 

Species listed under the Endangered Species Act receive special research funding. Traphagen says spots are limited because species approved for the list must have a recovery plan, which can take months or years to create and carry out. 

In a press release Monday, the Fish and Wildlife Service says while the Sonoran tortoise’s territory could be threatened by drought and other factors in the future, it’s currently not in danger of extinction. The agency posted the findings of its 12-month study on the Federal Register Monday.