MARINES FINISH AIRLIFTING ABOUT 1,100 TORTOISES OUT OF JOHNSON VALLEY

MARINES FINISH AIRLIFTING ABOUT 1,100 TORTOISES OUT OF JOHNSON VALLEY

The U.S. Marine Corps airlifted about 1,100 desert tortoises across the Mojave Desert this month.
A population of the reptiles lived in the Johnson Valley area, west of the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms. Plans to expand the Marines’ training grounds would have put the tortoises at risk, so the military took on the massive task of relocating them. The project took years’ worth of surveys dating back to 2008. Marine Base representatives said about 93 percent of the tortoise population were moved during the relocation. The tortoises were placed in plastic bins and strapped into a helicopter for the journey to their new homes to the West and North. Small tortoises unable to fend off predators were admitted to the base’s Tortoise Research and Captive Rearing Site, where they will be cared for until they are large enough to be relocated. For the next five years, the Marines will check for any remaining desert tortoises near the base, a 30-year monitoring plan is in place to check on the animals that have been relocated.

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