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Marine Corps To Spend $50 Million On Tortoise Airlifts

desert tortise
(Photo ~Pawsitive~Candie_N - CC BY 2.0)
Desert tortise

Marine Corps is planning a $50-million rescue effort in Southern California, but not for people. The mission is to airlift nearly 1,200 desert tortoises out of a hot zone.

The Los Angeles Times reported the Marine Corps is expected to begin the rescue effort as mitigation for congressional approval to expand the Marine Corps' Air Ground Combat Center by 165 square miles. Flying the tortoises away means the reptiles won't be crushed by military equipment.

Critics of the plan say moving the tortoises doesn't help with conservation, as it merely moves the population. They also say the stress from handling by humans can make the reptiles stressed and sick.

However, Base Environmental Planning Director Walter Christensen said they wouldn't move ahead with the plan if they didn't believe it was the best option for desert tortoises.

Stina Sieg was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2013 to 2018.