NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed a Safe Harbor Agreement for the endangered Bolson tortoise species. The agreement would help establish the free-range population of the species through the release of captively bread Bolson tortoises on the Armendaris Ranch in southern New Mexico.
In 2006, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service transported 33 Bolson tortoises from Arizona to the Armendaris Ranch in New Mexico where a captive population was established as part of conservation efforts. There are currently around 450 tortoises in the captive population and the Safe Harbor Agreement would facilitate the release and tracking of about 200 of those tortoises.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service describes the Bolson tortoise as “the largest and rarest of the five Northern American tortoise species.” The species was listed as endangered in 1979 and human interference, along with habitat loss, are among the reasons for the population decline. The Regional Director for the Fish and Wildlife Service, Amy Lueders, stresses that “private landowners have a vital role to play in the conservation of species like the Bolson tortoise.”
The Safe Harbor Agreement and a draft of the Environmental Assessment can be found on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s website. Comments are open to the public for 30 days and can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.