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Wildlife Service Will Work To Sterilize Tortoises

The federal government will begin sterilizing an endangered species it is trying to save.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service officials say they have to curb the backyard breeding of desert tortoises because the growing population of unwanted pet tortoises diverts resources from efforts to preserve the species in the wild.

Captive tortoises threaten native populations because they can carry diseases with them when they escape or are released illegally in the desert.

The Desert Tortoise Conservation Center in Las Vegas takes in as many as 1,000 unwanted tortoises each year.  Fish and Wildlife officials say the $1 million in costs to take care of the abandoned tortoises could be spent on research and recovery work instead.

The agency will hold a two-day clinic later this month in Las Vegas to teach a dozen veterinarians from Nevada, Arizona, California and Utah new sterilization.

Al Macias, former KJZZ news director, is part of an elite class of trusted, veteran journalists who have covered Arizona news for more than 30 years.