Desert Tortoise Faces Possible Euthanasia from Own Shelter as Funds Run Out
It has been decades that the desert tortoise has existed within the confines of a shelter. Developers have exhausted all measures to keep the animal safe. Wildlife officials have made arrangements to set up the species on a sprawling animal conservation reserve site just outside Las Vegas.
However, the tortoise now faces a threat from the same people that have brought it to the reserve and took care of it.
Federal funds at the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center have been running out. This prompted the officials to consider closing the site and place all hundreds of the tortoises they have been watching over under euthanasia. These animals have been brought to shelter after being added to the list of endangered species in 1990.
Biologists came over to examine the tortoises and look for any signs of disease. The 220-acre animal conservation area will not be accepting new animals for the months to come. Those that have arrived in the fall will be put down as well.
The Bureau of Land Management has paid for the site’s holding and research facility, imposing fees on developers that have disturbed tortoise public land habitat. As Nevada experienced a housing boom in the 2000s, the tortoise budget ballooned as well. However, recession hit the area causing the housing market to contract. Afterwards, the center’s annual budget of $1 million is now difficult for the bureau and the local government to maintain.
The housing situation never fully recovered. The federal mitigation fee paid by developers raked in a mere $290,000 for the past 11 months. Local partners of the project which collect their own fees have also pulled out.
Hillerie Patton, spokeswoman of BLM, has expressed that the center is now faced with the problem of having to take care of more and more tortoises that are coming in with a budget that is slowly going down the drain.
Roy Averill-Murray, desert tortoise recovery coordinator of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, wanted to save the center’s research function and now searches for alternative sources of funding.