The federal government is taking a new, and rather unusual, step to help save the endangered desert tortoises of the American Southwest. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has decided to begin sterilizing the species it’s trying to save in an effort to curb the growing population of pet tortoises which the agency claims is damaging the natural tortoise populations.
The FWS claims that the backyard breeding of desert tortoises is becoming a problem because the unwanted pet tortoises divert resources from efforts to preserve the natural species. The assistant field supervisor for the FWS in Nevada, Mike Senn, says that this can be “a really difficult issue” to explain to people.
Senn said that it doesn’t matter how many tortoises you breed if you don’t do enough to improve and preserve their natural habitat and address the threats that they face in the wild. Not to mention that, when pet tortoises escape or are released into the desert illegally, they can carry deadly diseases with them that can affect the natural tortoise populations.
The agency will be holding a two-day clinic event in Las Vegas sometime this month in order to teach veterinarians from across the American Southwest new sterilization techniques from the very experts who pioneered them. Around a dozen veterinarians will be attending the event later this month. Veterinarians that are trained at the clinic will be allowed to perform the procedures in their private practice and, Senn hopes, at future events where tortoise owners can get their pets sterilized for free, or at least at a discount.
Read more about the story at The Huffington Post.