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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes
NEVADA FWO: New Partnerships Formed for Desert Tortoise Recovery
Region 8, May 12, 2009
Kim Field attaches a radio transmitter to the tortoise so it its movements can be tracked when released into the wild. (photo: USFWS)
Kim Field attaches a radio transmitter to the tortoise so it its movements can be tracked when released into the wild. (photo: USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a
Tortoises at the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center . (photo: USFWS)
Tortoises at the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center . (photo: USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a

by Jeannie Stafford, Nevada FWO
Kim Field, desert tortoise recovery biologist at the Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office has long recognized the potential of the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center (DTCC) to make a strong contribution to desert tortoise recovery. Her initiative and foresight has been instrumental in creating a new partnership that is the first large-scale collaborative effort between the Service and the Conservation Centers for Species Survival (C2S2), in the contiguous 48 states. This new partnership will serve as a national model to encourage new approaches to complex conservation issues.

The DTCC was constructed in Las Vegas in 1990. Since its construction, the DTCC has been used primarily as a holding facility for formerly wild tortoises removed from development sites and for tortoises from Clark County’s tortoise pick-up service. Although the Center has occasionally hosted various research projects, it has had limited value to conservation and recovery of the desert tortoise.

In 2005 and 2006, Kim coordinated the development of a master plan. The plan envisions the transformation of the DTCC into a facility that would enhance desert tortoise recovery, provide for improved desert restoration techniques, foster cooperative scientific research that supports our knowledge of Mojave Desert ecosystems, and enhances public education and awareness of conservation needs of the Mojave Desert.

Since 2007, Kim has worked with the DTCC manager to improve husbandry conditions and coordinate various aspects of the DTCC operations. She secured clinical training for staff enabling them to better evaluate health of the tortoises. She has worked diligently to secure operational funds, to account for both expenditures and tortoises at the DTCC, and has coordinated with the BLM on a successful grant proposal to continue the development of the Master Plan.

Last year, Kim spearheaded the development of a new partnership with the C2S2, consisting of five American Zoological Association accredited institutions with a keen interest in assisting with the conservation of rare species worldwide. In March 2009, a Memorandum of Understanding between the Service, C2S2, BLM, and Nevada Department of Wildlife for the operation of the DTCC was signed. A Cooperative Agreement between the Service and the Zoological Society of San Diego (a member institution of C2S2) for the operation of the Center was also signed. In addition to animal husbandry expertise, the San Diego Zoo and other C2S2 members will bring innovative outreach, training, and education techniques, along with a reputable applied conservation science background to the partnership. This new partnership will be a great step forward in conservation and recovery efforts for the desert tortoise.

On the web: USFWS Desert Tortoise Recovery Office

Contact Info: Jeannie Stafford, 775-861-6300, jeannie_stafford@fws.gov