Part of the Bay Area News Group

Army killing endangered desert tortoises, coyotes, and … ?

By Gary Bogue
Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008 at 6:44 am in coyotes, Desert Tortoises, Endangered species.

Army relocates endangered desert tortoises into drought area. Starving coyotes kill tortoises. Army kills coyotes. Nobody wins, except the Army.

When our little story opens, 770 endangered desert tortoises are living peacefully in their local ecosystem in California’s lovely Mojave Desert. Then along comes the U.S. Army to stake claim on the endangered tortoise’s critical habitat because they want to use the area for Army tank training.

Just imagine what would happen if YOU wanted to build a new home in the middle of an endangered tortoise area. Right.

I last blogged on this subject on April 4: “Army declares war on endangered reptiles to make room for war games.” You can read it here:

And now, just two weeks later, this from the Associated Press:
“BARSTOW, Calif. — Endangered tortoises that were moved to make way for Army tank training in the Mojave desert are facing a threat from coyotes.

“Coyotes have killed 11 relocated desert tortoises since March, when federal officials began moving 770 to make way for expansion of Fort Irwin training grounds north of Barstow.

“A dozen tortoises already living in the relocation area have also died.

“A U.S. Fish and Wildlife expert says three tortoises survived attacks, although two lost a leg.

“Authorities say the coyotes may be attacking tortoises out of desperation because a drought has depleted their usual prey: rabbits.

“Federal authorities plan to track the coyotes and kill or capture them to protect them.”

More at

So, according to the above story, the Army first relocates 770 endangered tortoises into a new area where there is an ongoing drought. Brilliant. And they think that won’t affect the tortoises?

Then the Army says coyotes that already live in the relocation area are killing the tortoises, because they are starving because of the drought. And even though the resident coyotes are simply being natural predators and trying to survive, the Army says it’s going to kill them because the tortoises are more important.

This whole ecological mess, of course, wouldn’t be a problem if the Army hadn’t scooped up the tortoises from where they lived and dumped them there in the first place. Steel-armored tanks take precedence over bone-armored tortoises, you know.

Of course if the tortoises were still living on their old home turf they would have holes to hide in from the coyotes. The tortoises would also know where there were things to eat, and where there was water to drink. But because they have been dumped into this new area … they are still wandering around trying to find all these familiar places.

This makes them obvious to see and easy for the coyotes to catch.

Mother Nature never prepared the endangered desert tortoises for “relocation.”

And she definitely never prepared the endangered tortoises for dealing with the U.S. Army.

Who’d have figured.

But don’t worry … the U.S. Army is stepping up to give Mother Nature a hand. They’re going to kill them all … coyotes … ravens when they spot all those endangered desert tortoises running around in circles and fly down to take a bite … and probably hungry kit foxes … skunks … badgers … and because they wouldn’t be dying if they hadn’t been relocated, eventually even the endangered desert tortoises.

Problem solved. /Gary

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

2 Responses to “Army killing endangered desert tortoises, coyotes, and … ?”

  1. Gar Smith Says:

    Hi Gary,

    From today’s AP story, it looks like you were prescient, alas. Once again, the Armed Forces have failed to recognize that a short-sighted campaign-of-convenience has not yielded a long-term solution.

    I’ve added your April column to the posting of the AP story to give our readers some perspective on how this sad turn-of-event was foreseen — and ignored.

    US out of Iraq and US out of the Mojave.

  2. S. Ogden Says:

    The Army needs “practice” sites but NOT at the expense of local wildlife – they deserve to “live” too. Man is the biggest predator on the planet!!

Leave a Reply