Course Details

Authorized Desert Tortoise Biologist Training is a 3.5 day advanced course only open to those with substantial desert tortoise experience conducting both surveys and construction monitoring. This course is intended for those persons that are expecting to require permitting as an Authorized Biologist for an upcoming project. Participation is limited to 2 biologists per organization. Attendance will be limited to a maximum of 30 students.

Email Contact for this Course:

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 (USFWS). Information is presented through lectures and specialized field training using live desert tortoises, and focus on current protocols, guidelines, and regulations pertaining to the desert tortoise. The training will include:

  • Locate, identify, and report all forms of desert tortoise sign in accordance with approved protocols;
  • Handle and temporarily hold desert tortoises;
  • Relocate/translocate desert tortoises prior to implementation of projects;
  • Excavate burrows to locate desert tortoises or eggs;
  • Reconstruct desert tortoise burrows;
  • Unearth and relocate desert tortoise eggs;
  • Review and approve individual Desert Tortoise Monitors and their activities based on qualifications of the Monitors;
  • Directly supervise Desert Tortoise Monitors during clearance surveys and train Monitors in all aspects of protecting desert tortoises during implementation of projects;
  • Be familiar with the project biological assessment and biological opinion or incidental take permit (copy in hand);
  • Ensure proper implementation of protective measures; and
  • Record and report incidents of noncompliance in accordance with a biological opinion or permit.

Course Prerequisites

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

  • Successful completion of the Desert Tortoise Council’s Mojave Workshop, Introduction to Desert Tortoises and Field techniques;
  • Be an active member of the Desert Tortoise Council;
  • Minimum of 30 field days conducting desert tortoise surveys; and
  • Minimum of 30 field days 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.

Cost: $2,000.00

The fee covers the course as described on the syllabus and does not include travel, lodging, or meals not on the program.