Friday, March 5, 2010
Desert Tortoise Translocation Effectiveness Called Into Question
According to research presented at the Desert Tortoise Symposium, and reviewed in local press, desert tortoise translocation may not be an effective method of preserving desert tortoise populations. Solar energy projects proposed for vast tracts of land in the Mojave Desert would involve relocating tortoises from their burrows on proposed sites to conservation land purchased by the solar companies. The study presented at the Desert Tortoise Symposium, however, indicates that among 158 desert tortoises relocated from Fort Irwin nearly two years ago, 44 percent died and 20 tortoises were not located. Many of the dead tortoises were killed by coyotes. Of course, "green energy" firms like BrightSoure Energy and Solar Millennium balk at mitigation costs imposed by the California Energy Commission (CEC) in order to off-set their impact on desert tortoise and other sensitive species. Perhaps the CEC should take into consideration the failure rate in desert tortoise relocation and adjust the mitigation program appropriately.