Desert tortoises are under attack in new habitat
APRIL 4: I blogged that the U.S. Army was relocating 770 endangered California desert tortoises to make room for war games in the tortoises’ natural habitat.
APRIL 22: I blogged that the Army had relocated those tortoises into a drought area where starving coyotes were killing and feeding on them. The Army, of course, has started to shoot the coyotes for doing what comes naturally to starving coyotes … and nobody wins here except the Army, who still got the tortoise habitat for playing their war games.
Meanwhile, large numbers of already endangered tortoises are dying.
In 2001, according to a May 11 Los Angeles Times story by Louis Sahagun, Congress authorized Fort Irwin in the Mojave Desert to expand into prime tortoise habitat. As mitigation, the Army agreed to move the tortoises onto unoccupied public lands.
So far, at least 14 of the relocated tortoises and 14 resident tortoises have been killed and eaten by coyotes.
The L. A. Times further states that the Center for Biological Diversity is planning to file suit this month against the Army, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management for allegedly violating the federal Endangered Species Act.
Kind of a moot point at this stage of the game. The tortoises are already dead and dying.
“The deed is done, and now we’re watching the aftermath,” the L. A. Times quoted Ilene Anderson, a biologist and spokeswoman for the Center of Biological Diversity. “It’s a disaster … “
As Ilene says, this truly is a disaster. I’m not sure the already endangered desert tortoises in Southern California will ever really recover from this fiasco. (Can you spell “e-x-t-i-n-c-t?”) All because the U.S. Army wanted to play war games.
Unfortunately it’s not a game anymore. It’s a deadly reality. /Gary
DESERT TORTOISE VIDEO AND STORY
To see an interesting video of the endangered California desert tortoise plight, and to read the entire May 11 story, “Desert Tortoise is Under Siege in New Habitat,” in the Los Angeles Times, click on http://www.latimes.com/la-me-tortoise11-2008may11,0,7659394.story