Course Details

Authorized Desert Tortoise Biologist Training is a 4.5 day advanced course only open to those with moderate-level field experience conducting both desert tortoise surveys and construction monitoring, and is intended for those persons that are expecting to require permitting as an Authorized Biologist for an upcoming project. Information will be presented through lectures and specialized field training using live desert tortoises, and will focus on current protocols, guidelines, State and Federal permits, and regulations pertaining to the desert tortoise.

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Content of Course

This course provides desert tortoise biologists with knowledge and experience to fulfill the qualifications of an Authorized Biologist as defined by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service).

Classroom instruction will focus on biosecurity, bioethics, desert tortoise biology and natural history, construction monitoring protocols, coordination and effective communication techniques with construction crews, environmental awareness training, and State and Federal permitting process and regulations.

Field instruction will include working in small groups practicing field techniques and identifying different types of sign with an experienced instructor.

All participants will process (weigh, measure, and inspect) desert tortoises. Successful participants will need to pass a written and practical exam.

Course Prerequisites

The course is open to individuals with substantial tortoise experience. Applicants must meet three criteria:

  • Successful completion of the Desert Tortoise Council’s Introduction to Desert Tortoises and Field Techniques Course, or equivalent field experience;
  • Minimum of 280 hours conducting desert tortoise surveys; and
  • Minimum of 280 hours conducting construction monitoring in desert tortoise habitat.

All applicants must submit a completed Desert Tortoise Authorized Biologist Training Application Form. Qualified applicants will receive registration instructions when they are notified of their acceptance.  In order to apply for participation complete the form and submit to Cristina Jones ( for review by course instructors.  Once approved, a direct link for this course will be provided for use on the Wild Apricot registration system.

When you have been accepted to the Training and completed the registration process, a detailed agenda and required reading prior to the training will be emailed to you.

Class size is limited. If you are interested in and qualified for this training, please submit your Desert Tortoise Authorized Biologist Qualifications Form as soon as possible. These forms will be reviewed on a first come – first served basis.