What will happen to desert tortoises relocated from solar sites?

I had previously posted on studies investigating the effectiveness of translocating desert tortoises to other parts of the Mojave Desert to take them out of "harm's way."   In 2008, Fort Irwin began relocating tortoises from Mojave Desert habitat that would soon become part of the base's training area.  The full Fort Irwin report on desert tortoise mortalities from base activities indicates that 200 desert tortoises were killed and 6 were injured in 2008, the vast majority of those were translocated tortoises.

The report was provided to the California Energy Commission (CEC) as evidence to be used in the CEC's assessment of the proposed Calico Solar power project.  If the solar project is approved, Tessera Solar LLC--the company proposing the project--would likely translocate dozens of tortoises currently inhabiting the area.   Based on the Fort Irwin translocation experience, the approval of large solar projects is essentially a death sentence for tortoises.

Screenshot from just one page of the Fort Irwin report on the status of tortoises, identified by their number in the far left column, and the assessed cause of death in the far right column.  Canid deaths typically means coyotes had taken advantage of the tortoises adjusting to new territory.


  1. I read a study (think it was a master's thesis) years ago re: what happens to snakes (think it was rattlesnakes) that were relocated. Somewhere from 75-90% die. People just don't know this, so I'm very glad you shared that information re: tortoises.

    One question: 200 killed and 6 injured out of how many relocated? (or is that in the previous post?)


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