Hundreds Of Desert Tortoises May Be Euthanized

August 30, 2013

Recent reports that hundreds of sick desert tortoises at a Nevada sanctuary might have to be put down have triggered a public outcry. The animals are found in Utah, California, Nevada and Arizona. 

Desert tortoises have trundled across the Southwest for 200 million years. But the prehistoric animals are susceptible to respiratory infections. The Desert Tortoise Conservation Center, near Las Vegas, has sheltered thousands of displaced tortoises for 23 years. It’s scheduled to close next year. 

The head of the facility said last week that more than half of the 1,400 tortoises there were sick and would have to be euthanized.

The Fish and Wildlife Service says many of the sick animals cannot be adopted out or released back into the wild because they might infect healthy tortoises.

The Bureau of Land Management has partially funded the conservation center through fees imposed on developers who disturb tortoise habitats, but when the housing bubble burst several years ago, that funding dropped dramatically, leading to the closure.

Fish and Wildlife says healthy tortoises will not be euthanized.

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