A Slow-Moving Process

Even our desert tortoise friends aren’t safe from Big Brother, although having their every move tracked could help save them. The San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research recently outfitted 36 tortoises with a VHF radio transmitter and released them about 40 miles south of Las Vegas in an effort to gather detailed information about the animals’ movements and habitat choices, helping to boost their recovery by finding the best methods for their release and relocation.

The tortoises were relocated from the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center in Las Vegas, with 24 of them also wearing GPS units that will update their position every 30 minutes. Scientists were careful to ensure that the units weigh less than 10 percent of the tortoises’ body weight so as to not impede the animals’ movements.

Many of the released tortoises, which are federally protected under the Endangered Species Act, were once pets, so scientists are curious as to how long it takes the animals to adjust to life in the wild.

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