Through a partnership with the California Turtle and Tortoise Club
(CTTC), High Desert Chapter, the Lewis Center has provided a location to house desert tortoises that have been injured and rescued from the wild, or hatched and/or raised in captivity and are between adoptions. The facility is called "Tortoise Terrace".
CTTC Rescue and Adoption Program: Desert Tortoises
Under federal and state laws it is illegal to buy, sell, take or harm desert tortoises in California, or to move them out of the State. By agreement with California Department of Fish and Game, designated members of CTTC serve as volunteer representatives for the Department for the relocation of desert tortoises (including captive bred hatchlings) within California. Every year, CTTC handles hundreds of desert tortoises and works to provide the best homes available. CTTC Members also help to maintain the data base of captive desert tortoises, and process and issue the permits and registration materials for California Department of Fish and Game's "Permit to Possess Gopherus Tortoises" program.
Why should captive tortoises not be released to the wild?
The program was designed to allow the legal possession of a protected species (i.e. the desert tortoise) which has a large captive population but is endangered in the wild, and thus to discourage illegal taking and abandonment of wild tortoises. Having a legal mechanism in which to operate is essential in the endeavor to prevent individual members of the public from returning long term captive tortoises to the wild, a once common practice that is widely suspected to have been a major contributing factor in the spread of the Upper Respiratory Tract Disease epidemic that has devastated the wild population.
For more information about the California Turtle and Tortoise Club
(CTTC), High Desert Chapter, you can attend their meetings on the second Monday of the month, 7:00 pm at The Sterling Inn Regency Room, 17738 Francesca Road, Victor Valley (corner of Ridgecrest, just north of Bear Valley Road) or send a letter to CTTC, High Desert Chapter P.O. Box 163, Victorville, CA 92392. If interested in adopting a tortoise, or need to rescue a tortoise call Dave Santini, Adoption Chairperson of the High Desert CTTC, at (760) 242-5198.