• 2021 Virtual Symposium

    We’ve teamed up with the Turtle Survival Alliance to provide our annual symposium virtually on Tuesday and Thursday mornings beginning February 9, 2021 and concluding on February 25, 2021.

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  • About the DTC

    Since 1975, we’ve promoted science-based conservation of desert tortoises and their habitats and informed the public about their plight.

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  • About Desert Tortoises

    Formerly considered a single species, the desert tortoises are comprised of three closely related species – each exposed to different threats.

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  • Join the DTC

    Come join us in our mission to conserve desert tortoises and their habitats.

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2021 46th Annual Symposium

Multi-day, Virtual Symposium Planned for February 2021

The Desert Tortoise Council has teamed up with the Turtle Survival Alliance to organize and implement the virtual 46th Annual Desert Tortoise Council Symposium on Tuesday and Thursday mornings beginning February 9, 2021 and concluding on February 25, 2021.

About the DTC

The Desert Tortoise Council was established in 1975 to promote conservation of the desert tortoise in the deserts of the southwestern United States and Mexico. The Council is a non-profit organization comprised of hundreds of professionals and laypersons who share a common concern for desert tortoises in the wild and a commitment to advancing the public’s understanding of the species. Click the button below to learn more about what we do and what you can do to help!

About Desert Tortoises

The desert tortoise species are native inhabitants of several southwestern ecosystems, including the Sonoran, Colorado, and Mojave Deserts of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, and tropical deciduous forests and thornscrub in northwestern Mexico. These tortoises are long-lived reptiles, as important to their ecosystems as their own environments are to them. Though the desert tortoises are well-adapted to their environments, it’s becoming increasingly clear that they’re unable to cope with the fast-paced and increasingly widespread and intensive changes humans have wrought on southwestern ecosystems in recent decades. Click the button below to learn more and watch a documentary about the plight of the desert tortoise.

Training Programs

Find out more about our Desert Tortoise Councile training courses, including an Introduction to Desert Tortoises & Field TechniquesHealth Assessment Procedures for Translocations of the Mojave Desert Tortoise, and our Authorized Desert Tortoise Biologist Course. Click the button below to learn more about how to learn more!


Grant funding is available to researchers for appropriate projects benefiting the conservation of desert tortoises. Awards are presented in support of research that contributes to the understanding, management and conservation of tortoises of the genus Gopherus in the southwestern United States and Mexico. Funding is available to students working with North American Gopherus tortoises for assistance with their travel costs to attend and participate at future Desert Tortoise Council Symposia.

DTC News

46th [Virtual] Annual Symposium, February 2021
We’ve teamed up with the Turtle Survival Alliance to provide our annual symposium virtually on Tuesday and Thursday mornings beginning February 9, 2021 and concluding on February 25.

First Known Cases of RHDV-2 Found in California
Since March 2020, Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Serotype 2 (RHDV-2) has been spreading through wild and domestic lagomorphs in the western U.S. and Mexico, causing large mortality events. RHDV2 is highly contagious and is extremely persistent in the environment.

Covid-19 Updates
Due to Covid-19, the Desert Tortoise Council will not hold public gatherings until public health authorities can confidently approve them. We will plan to substitute our onsite events with virtual meetings. Please see information on the November Introductory Course and the Annual Symposium for specifics.

RFP: Innovations for Improvement/Restoration of Desert Tortoise Foraging Habitat
The Desert Tortoise Council announces a request for proposals (RFP) for research projects targeted at developing innovations or methods designed to improve desert tortoise habitat restoration techniques. An award of $9,000 is available for the research project.

2020 Symposium Abstracts
The 2020 Annual Symposium in Las Vegas was a success!  Click the title above to view abstracts from the presentations.

2020 Grants Applications Now Available!
The Desert Tortoise Council’s Grants Committee is now accepting applications for the 2020 David J. Morafka Memorial Research Award, and Glenn R. Stewart Student Travel Fund.

New Publication – Mojave Desert Tortoise, Agassiz’s Desert Tortoise
A new, comprehensive account of Agassiz’s desert tortoise by Kristin H. Berry and Robert W. Murphy has been published by the Chelonian Research Foundation and Turtle Conservancy in association with the IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group, Global Wildlife Conservation, Turtle Conservation Fund, and International Union for Conservation of Nature / Species Survival Commission.

DTC Newsletter, Vol 44 – Summer, 2019
Conservation Organizations Gathered to Discuss Enhanced Wildlife Protection in the U.S.-Mexico Border States; Recap of the 44th Annual Desert Tortoise Symposium: Where Science Meets Winter Wonderland; Non-native Tortoises Found in Red Cliffs Desert Reserve are Likely Former Pets; 2019 Grant & Award Winners; and more…

Desert Tortoise Annotated Bibliography
In 2015, the Desert Tortoise Council funded a grant to the USGS to complete this very important document. The “Desert Tortoise Annotated Bibliography, 1991 – 2015” is now available!

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