Arizona

Aug 4, 2014 3:15 PM by Stefanie Boe

Watch out: desert tortoises are most active right now

Monsoon storms could mean you'll see more wildlife in southern Arizona, particularly desert tortoises. The Arizona Game and Fish Department says the iconic creatures are in their most active season right now.

There are actually two different types of tortoises in Arizona: the Mojave Desert tortoise which is found north and west of the Colorado River and the Sonoran Desert tortoise. The Sonoran Desert tortoise is protected by Game and Fish.

Here are some tips from Arizona Game and Fish if you come upon a tortoise:

• Do not remove a tortoise from its habitat. Taking a wild tortoise home is illegal in Arizona. Additionally, most tortoises stay in the same small area their entire lives, so if you move a tortoise to a new location it will not know where to find food and shelter and will likely die.

• Do not release a captive tortoise into the wild. Captive desert tortoises cannot be released into the wild as they can pass diseases to wild populations and displace wild tortoises. It is also illegal to release captive animals into the wild.

• Keep dogs away from both captive and wild desert tortoises. Even the gentlest dog can pose a serious threat to a tortoise.

• If you come across a desert tortoise crossing a busy road, if traffic safely permits it, pick the tortoise up and gently move it to the other side of the road. Carry the animal so that it is level to the ground, and move it in the same direction it was headed.

• If you encounter a desert tortoise, Game and Fish biologists want to know. Please email the details and a photo if you can take one without handling the tortoise, to turtlesproject@azgfd.gov

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