The endangered tortoises are finally peeking out from their underground homes in Jack Rabbit Park across from Taco Bell. There are three tortoises in the enclosure, each with their own burrow. If you’re lucky, you might spot one walking around or munching on an afternoon snack.
These are the same turtles that if found, must be reported to the Environmental Division of the Directorate of Public Works because they are classified as “threatened” in the states of California, Utah, Arizona and Nevada. The “turtle fence” on Fort Irwin Road? Yup, it’s for those same tortoises.
Speaking of which, keep an eye out when you’re on Fort Irwin Road, exploring the desert, or out in “The Box.” Hitting a desert tortoise could cost you a $50,000 fine and a year in jail! Yikes! The same punishment applies for harassment; the law prohibits actions such as throwing rocks at the tortoises or trying to touch them. Doing so could cause them to urinate in fear, depleting their water store and putting them at risk for dehydration or even death. If you’re on post and see one (not in the enclosure), make sure to call the Environmental Division of the DPW at (760) 380-3740.
The DPW has a special building for injured and endangered species here on post? It’s called the Desert Discovery Center and is located in Building 604 on Fifth Street. They have rattlesnakes, an injured owl, a hawk, and other desert creatures. Eventually the tortoises in Jack Rabbit Park will be moved in an area adjacent to this building.
On Friday, April 29, 2011, is the Center’s “Grand Opening” for Earth Day. Everyone is invited to attend. There will be a display of live wildlife, food/drink vendors, a fire safety trailer, an SCE energy savings trailer, solar energy displays, and a PMO canine officer demonstration. Check the Fort Irwin MWR Events Calendar for more details.
If you can’t make it tomorrow, you can set up a visit by calling Clarence Everly at (760) 380-3740.