Despite their dwindling numbers and imperiled status, I’ve been fortunate to encounter quite a few wild desert tortoises over the years, including this cooperative and patient fellow found in the Chuckwalla Mountains (photographed with my 4×5″ view camera; view cameras can be slow, but tortoises are slower!).
As if the tortoises haven’t had it hard enough, Fort Irwin is expanding its operations and is displacing and relocating many desert tortoises (760 so far). If only the relocation was successful. L.A Times story.
You’d think that we’d have learned by now that tinkering with nature generally produces unexpected and unfortunate consequences, yet “In an effort to prevent further losses, the Army has requested that the predators, described by one military spokesman as a “rogue clan of coyotes,” be eradicated by animal control sharpshooters.” Someone please help me with this one; how can the most powerful (and presumably smartest) military in the world not realize the stupidity of such a statement? They’re not going to target a “rogue clan”; they’re likely to kill every coyote they can find, “innocent” or otherwise. Further, when coyotes come under fire, they don’t vanish – they reproduce and expand their territory. Shooting random coyotes will accomplish nothing, as generations of ranchers have already learned. Why are innocent coyotes and tortoises going to have to pay the ultimate price for the U.S. Army’s blunder?
The Center for Biological Diversity will “file suit later this month against the Army, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management for allegedly violating the federal Endangered Species Act in their management of desert tortoises.”
They have my fullest support.
“Tug on anything at all and you’ll find it connected to everything else in the universe.”
“The outstanding scientific discovery of the twentieth century is not television, or radio, but rather the complexity of the land organism. Only those who know the most about it can appreciate how little we know about it. The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant: “What good is it?” If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.”