Protecting the Sonoran Desert Tortoise
The Sonoran desert tortoise is a newly recognized tortoise species found in desert scrub habitats in Arizona and Mexico, east and south of the Colorado River. In 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found in a preliminary assessment the tortoise is “warranted” for endangered species protections. Further reviews in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 reaffirmed the “warranted” finding, but the Service reversed its position in a 2015 assessment later used to deny protections for the Sonoran desert tortoise.
The Service’s flip-flop occurred with no new science to back it up. The decision not to provide protections for the tortoise was based on incomplete analysis that didn’t cover all threats, as well as faulty assumptions and speculation. We’re taking the Service to court to force the agency to reconsider its decision not to list the Sonoran desert tortoise under the Endangered Species Act.