Apr 12, 2013 3:13 PM by Michelle Walby

Border Patrol agents rescue sacred reptiles

TUCSON - Two tortoises trapped in a mining pit on the Tohono O'odham Nation were rescued recently by Tucson Sector Border Patrol agents.

Agents from the Three Points sub-station were patrolling on foot in the Chukut Kuk District when they discovered Sonoran Desert tortoises trapped in a 10-foot hole under dense debris. Officials from the Tohono O'odham Nation's Department of Natural Resources were contacted and took custody of the area.

Following the rescue, agents learned that this particular species of tortoise is sacred and revered in much of the Tohono O'odham peoples teachings.

"We appreciate the Border Patrol's assistance in rescuing the tortoises," said Verlon Jose, chairman of the Chukut Kuk District. "The turtle is a sacred animal and is much revered as told in our teachings."

"The preservation of our valuable natural and cultural resources is of great importance to Customs and Border Protection and we are fully engaged in efforts that consider environmental impact as we work to secure our nation's borders," said Tucson Sector Acting Chief Patrol Agent Manuel Padilla.

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