Marines move 1000 tortoises to expand desert training grounds

More than 1,000 desert tortoises are taking a trip with the Marine Corps this month.

The Marines are using helicopters to relocate the tortoises to another part of the Mojave to make way for an expansion of desert training grounds.

During the two-week long process, the hubcap-sized tortoises are being loaded into plastic containers, which are then stacked and strapped to a helicopter.

Their new home will be swaths of federal land to the north and southeast of the Twentynine Palms base, Marine officials said. The areas were deemed far enough away that the tortoises wouldn’t migrate back to their original habitat.

Navy medics

U.S. Navy corpsmen from 1st Medical Battalion rush a casualty off an MV-22B Osprey after a simulated combat-related trauma at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California to a treatment facility at Camp Pendleton, July 29, 2016. The Warfighting Lab identifies possible challenges of the future, develops new warfighting concepts, and tests new ideas to help develop equipment that meets the challenges of the future operating environment. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Nadia J. Stark/released)

The cost of the whole effort, including a 30-year monitoring program to ensure the health of the federally protected species, is $50 million.

The Marines at the Twentynine Palms base want to be able to practice large-scale exercises with live fire and combined-arms maneuvering.

The campaign goes back to 2008, when the Corps began studying how to do it without breaking environmental law.

The 2014 National Defense Authorization Act handed land formerly managed by the Bureau of Land Management to the Defense Department. Tortoises living on that land are now being moved.

In March 2016, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice of intent to sue, arguing that the federal government failed to fully examine how the move might harm the tortoises.

However, the move went ahead this month after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service told the Marine Corps that its review wouldn’t be done before the spring window for the move, Marine Corps officials said.

Also read: Hilarious video shows what Marines stationed in 29 Palms don’t say

It’s not the first time that the Corps has been in the tortoise-moving business.

In 2006, the Twentynine Palms base relocated 17 adult tortoises in order to build a training range. Marine officials say no tortoises died during three years of post-move monitoring.

This time, Marine Corps biologists will monitor tortoises intensely for the first five years. Then monitoring requirements will diminish over time until the 30-year obligation is met, officials said.

About 235 juveniles too small for relocation are being admitted to the base’s “head start facility,” where they will remain until they grow large enough to better survive on their own.

TOP ARTICLES
This is what the DoD has planned for a zombie apocalypse

It does touch on many of the pop culture elements of zombie lore, but it breaks things down to become applicable to most situations that would similar to an actual outbreak.

Some dirtbags messed with an Iwo Jima memorial — and Marines caught 'em on film

Officials say an Iwo Jima memorial in Fall River was doused with the contents of a fire extinguisher last weekend. Police are investigating

Vets are going to get a new ID card, and they'll be ready for use next month

The new identification card will provide employers looking to hire veterans with an easier way to verify an employee's military service.

This is the story behind the rise and fall of the Islamic State group

The Islamic State group, responsible for some of the worst atrocities perpetrated against civilians in recent history, appears on the verge of collapse.

Now the Iraqi army is going after the Kurdish forces who helped beat ISIS

Iraqi federal and Kurdish forces exchanged fire on Oct. 20, capping a dramatic week that saw the Kurds hand over territory across Northern Iraq.

This Kurdish female militia refuses to stop its hunt for ISIS terrorists

A Kurdish female militia, after helping free the city of Raqqa, said it will continue the fight to liberate women from the extremists’ brutal rule.

The US just sent nearly 1M bombs and missiles to Guam — here's why

Hint: There's this guy a few thousand miles away who's threatening to lob a nuke in their direction.

This is what the 400 US troops in Somalia are actually up to

The US has quadrupled its military presence in Somalia after Al-Shabab killed nearly 300 civilians in two truck bombings. Half of them are special ops troops.

The war between the US Army and Magpul is heating up over ice

Magpul officials are calling foul on the Army's claim that its rifle magazines don't work in the cold — and they say they can prove it.

The real-life dictator who ruined his country and became a cannibal

In this episode, the WATM podcast team talks about Ken Burns' 'Vietnam' series, the down side of communism and Idi Amin. You won't want to miss it.