The Desert Tortoise Council teamed up with the Turtle Survival Alliance to organize and implement the virtual 46th Annual Desert Tortoise Council Symposium in February 2021. The program included plenary speakers, multiple sessions on research and news affecting tortoises and their conservation, and awards.
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.
In early May, an unusual number of dead lagomorphs were reported on a site in the Coachella Valley in Riverside County. At the request of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), a specimen was transported to a lab for necropsy the death was attributed to RHDV-2. Ultimately over fifty dead lagomorphs were found in the area over the course of just a few weeks and in the weeks since, cases have also been reported in San Diego, Orange, and San Bernardino counties.
CDFW, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are working to limit transmission and have published guidance.
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.
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.
The 2020 Annual Symposium in Las Vegas was a success!
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.
Conservation Organizations Gathered to Discuss Enhanced Wildlife Protections in the U.S.-Mexico Border States
Last month, some 40 wildlife conservation leaders and specialists representing 22 American and Mexican non-governmental organizations were gathered during the 44th Annual Symposium of the Desert Tortoise Council in Tucson, Arizona to celebrate recent successes and accelerate protection of transboundary wildlife corridors, with a focus on supporting private lands conservation on the U.S.-Mexico border states.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has just released the “Desert Tortoise Annotated Bibliography, 1991 – 2015”, prepared by Dr. Kristin H. Berry and her team. The Desert Tortoise Council funded a grant to the USGS to complete this very important document.
The DTC is very interested in gathering all available hard copy materials that will help us accurately represent the rich history of the Desert Tortoise Council. We are particularly interested in hearing from past board members and officers, and respectfully seek folders and boxes full of archival materials.
This newly-published book by Dr. Scott Abella. Conserving America’s National Parks shares the status of conservation challenges and successes in America’s 408 national parks. The book includes discussions of interactions of the desert tortoise with non-native plants and fire, plus renewable energy, in addition to the overall focus of the book on conserving key habitats.
Visit our Awards page to view the list of recipients of awards at the 2018 Annual Symposium in Las Vegas, Nevada.