Marines Relocate Mojave Desert Tortoises to Allow Training

In this Sept. 3, 2008, file photo, an endangered desert tortoise, sits in the middle of a road at the proposed location of three BrightSource Energy solar-energy generation complexes in the eastern Mojave Desert near Ivanpah, Calif. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
In this Sept. 3, 2008, file photo, an endangered desert tortoise, sits in the middle of a road at the proposed location of three BrightSource Energy solar-energy generation complexes in the eastern Mojave Desert near Ivanpah, Calif. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif.  — The Marine Corps has relocated more than 900 tortoises from a section of Southern California's Mojave Desert to allow large-scale military training.

The Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms says the two-week effort involving federal wildlife experts and land managers was completed April 21.

In all, 929 desert tortoises were collected, given health assessments and relocated to new homes.

The Marine Corps says the release site for each tortoise was individually selected based on habitat factors and to maintain social connections with neighbors.

The desert tortoise is a threatened species. The base plans to closely monitor the relocated tortoises for the first five years of a 30-year study.

Twentynine Palms is north of Joshua Tree National Park, about 150 miles east of Los Angeles.

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