The desert tortoise is one of many animals found at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., in Southern California’s High Desert.
Listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973, desert tortoises are protected from unwarranted harassment or injury. The 412th Civil Engineer Group’s Environmental Management Division wants to remind base residents to be on the lookout for desert tortoises, especially near or crossing roadways.
“Desert tortoises are particularly active March through May and again from September through October,” said Larry Zimmerman, Natural Resource Manager with the Environmental Management Division. “However, desert tortoises can be active at any time throughout the year, especially during and after rainfall.”
People working or living on Edwards are encouraged to check under and around vehicles prior to moving their vehicles, especially if parked near open desert, according to Zimmerman.
If a desert tortoise is seen and not in immediate danger, people are advised not to touch the animal and monitor the animal until it reaches safety.
However, the Environmental Management Division should be contacted immediately if a tortoise is seen whether in danger or not. Only authorized and trained people are allowed to touch a desert tortoise in non-emergency situations. Unauthorized handling could result in a $50,000 fine and jail time.
If a motorist encounters a desert tortoise in immediate danger on or near the road, they can pick up the tortoise and move it off the road. Slowly approach the tortoise from its front, pick it up by its sides, keep it level, and place the tortoise pointed in the same direction it was heading at least 100 feet off the road in a shady place. After moving a desert tortoise, call the Environmental Management Division office.
Anyone who encounters a desert tortoise in distress should call the Environmental Management Division at 661-277-1401.