Twenty-seventh Desert Tortoise Council Fall Course

Introduction to Desert Tortoises and Field Techniques will be held November 3-4, 2018.

Pinnacles Room at the Kerr McGee Center
100 W. California Ave.
Ridgecrest, CA

See the 2017 Course Syllabus for information on course content.
Email Maggie Fusari at with questions.

Description of the course

Field session at the Desert Tortoise Council Introductory Tortoise CourseIntroduction to Desert Tortoises and Field Techniques is a two-day basic course that includes important information on ecology, habitat preferences, life history, health, physiology, and threats; applicable state and federal laws and required permits; and two field sessions on surveys and identification of tortoises and tortoise sign. This comprehensive introduction to Agassiz's or the Mojave Desert tortoise, Gopherus agassizii, is designed for wildlife biologists, zoologists, natural resource specialists, wildlife managers, land managers, recreation specialists, persons dealing with the public, teachers, and the general public. This course is recommended for entry-level tortoise field biologists looking to prepare themselves for the job of locating tortoises and sign in the field, and for seeking authorizations to do tortoise fieldwork. The course does not guarantee any authorization but is recognized by state and federal agencies as providing important information and skills training.

The course includes:

  • Hands-on exercises in monitoring and surveying techniques for desert tortoises
  • Authorized demonstrations of egg handling and burrow construction
  • Overview of the desert tortoise and threats to its survival

To receive a letter affirming your completion of this course you must attend the entire course including the field portion, turn in a completed field survey form, and take the on-line test that will be available after the course ends and will be due in mid December.

After you attend the course you will receive a one-year free membership in the Desert Tortoise Council unless you decline.

Thanks to a lot of work by Kristin Berry there is a new bibliography that you can download from

We also recommend the reference book: Rostal et al., Biology and Conservation of North American Tortoises, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014, 190pp.

Authorization Facts

Desert Tortoise Council's Introduction to Desert Tortoises and Field Techniques Courses are recognized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, BUT a certificate of attendance does not guarantee any USFWS authorization or permit. However, completion of the Course should help with the authorization/permitting processes.

Details will be announced later and registration will begin in early July.

Email Maggie Fusari at with questions.