On August 4, 2008, Joshua Tree National Park staff discovered a tortoise that had apparently been burned to death. The tortoise was found in a fire grate in Black Rock Campground, which is located south of the town of Yucca Valley.
It is currently unknown when the death occured and who is responsible. National Park Service rangers conducting the investigation request that anyone who might be able to provide information about the incident call 760-367-5541.
The protection of native wildlife is a primary mission of the National Park Service. The desert tortoise, Gopherus agassizii, is California’s state reptile and was placed on both the California and Federal Endangered Species Lists in 1989 and 1990, respectively. Its status is “threatened”—just one notch below “endangered.”
Handling wild tortoises is illegal under the Endangered Species Act. The only reason for picking one up is when the tortoise is on or near a road and is in imminent danger of being struck by a vehicle. For more information about the desert tortoise click here.