WASHINGTON (CN) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced in a 90 day status review that the Sonoran population of desert tortoise is a distinct population segment under the Endangered Species Act and that listing, as threatened or endangered, under the Act may be warranted.
As a result the Service will begin a 12-month status review at the conclusion of which it will publish a proposal to list or not to list the Sonoran desert tortoise under the Act. The Service encourages the public to comment on a listing decision and to provide background material on the biology, life cycle and populations of the tortoise.
The tortoise survives the 140 degree heat of the desert by digging burrows where it spends 95 percent of its life protected from heat in summer and frost in winter. The population of Sonoran tortoises has declined by nearly 90 percent since the 1980s mostly as the result of habitat destruction and over-population of ravens that prey on juvenile tortoises.