Run for your lives tortoises!
By SHERMAN FREDERICK
Apparently desert tortoises don’t read the newspapers. They are in trouble. They receive federal protection.
Here’s my advice to desert tortoises in Nevada: Run for your lives! You don’t need protection by the federal government. You need protection from the federal government.
Ask wild horses how federal protection is working out for them. Can you spell “dog food”?
Let me tell you a story. It’s one I share with many Nevada families.
My family once lived at The Lakes in Las Vegas. In the 1980s, it was a spot-zoned community in the middle of nowhere. No other development in any direction. Summerlin was a pipe dream. Civilization ended at Rainbow Boulevard. In places you could even see wagon ruts.
From our house to the mountains was pure desert, filled with jackrabbits, lizards of all kinds, coyotes, a few kit foxes and, of course, desert tortoises.
Most days after school, the kids in the neighborhood, accompanied by our yellow lab, Chief, set out on excursions from which they’d bring back all kinds of creatures. We’d have to stand our sons at attention on the front porch and search their backpacks, along with every pocket in their jeans, to separate them from their prized chuckwalla, or whiptail or whatever turned out to be the catch the day.
We missed a few. Nothing like sitting down to dinner and watching a desert creature scurry across the floor.
This band of suburban children group hunting with a yellow lab produced desert tortoises almost weekly. We kept a few, but we couldn’t keep them all. When the smiling kids would bring the tortoises home, I’d try to tell them the reptiles were a protected species, and that the creatures needed to be returned to the desert before the FBI found out.
They’d cock a puzzled glance like only kids can do, and say: “But, dad, they are everywhere.”
“Obviously.” I’d say, “But they are still protected. Take them back.”
The irony could not be missed. The federal government may not be able to find enough desert tortoises, but our neighborhood kids sure could.
Anyway, after some 20 years of central government “management” of the desert tortoise in Nevada (and not to mention extra, unnecessary expense incurred by the homebuilding industry), we’re starting to get the picture that it’s all been a weirdly dumb exercise. My kids and the yellow lab could have testified to that.
The federal government is now planning to close the Las Vegas Valley’s desert tortoise refugee camp and release hundreds of them into the wild. I am not making this up.
I hope there’s enough room for them out there.
Sherman Frederick is former editor of the Tribune-Herald and former publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Rules for posting comments
Comments posted below are from readers. In no way do they represent the view of Oahu Publishing Inc. or this newspaper. This is a public forum.
Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content but the newspaper is under no obligation to do so. Comment posters are solely responsible under the Communications Decency Act for comments posted on this Web site. Oahu Publishing Inc. is not liable for messages from third parties.
IP and email addresses of persons who post are not treated as confidential records and will be disclosed in response to valid legal process.
Do not post:
- Potentially libelous statements or damaging innuendo.
- Obscene, explicit, or racist language.
- Copyrighted materials of any sort without the express permission of the copyright holder.
- Personal attacks, insults or threats.
- The use of another person's real name to disguise your identity.
- Comments unrelated to the story.
If you believe that a commenter has not followed these guidelines, please click the FLAG icon below the comment.