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Tortoise Center established as a shelter

To the editor:

Let me see if I understand your Tuesday article (“Tortoise center wants out of the shelter business”) about the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center no longer picking up pet and stray tortoises – however you define a “stray” tortoise.

When the Mojave population of the desert tortoise was listed in 1989, all free-ranging tortoises were protected by the Endangered Species Act; those already being held as pets were not. But after 1989, any tortoises hatched in backyards to unprotected pets were protected by the ESA.

How will the staffs of the conservation center and the Lied Animal Shelter differentiate between unwanted, protected pets; unwanted, unprotected pets; and protected, free-ranging tortoises?

How can there be an adoption program for tortoises that includes individuals that may be protected by the law? Will protected tortoises removed from job sites covered under the Clark County “incidental take” permit program be sent to the DTCC or will they go to Lied? Although it is cruel to release a pet tortoise into the desert, is it really “illegal” to do so if the individual was born after 1989?

Ted Koch, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service representative for Nevada, said the core mission of DTCC is research, education and releases, not serving as a care center for unwanted animals. But information published early in the ’90s suggests that the DTCC was established primarily as a shelter for tortoises, and there was no differentiation between the housing of free-ranging or pet tortoises, wanted or unwanted.

Mr. Koch also said that “raising individuals in captivity” didn’t meet one of the fundamental purposes of ESA. But Recovery Action 3 of the Revised Recovery Plan for the population, issued by FWS only 20 months ago, is to augment depleted populations by establishing a captive breeding program, and then “head-starting” hatchlings for later release into the desert. This sounds like raising individuals in captivity.

We are still awaiting the plans for the “no tortoise left behind” program.

TOM O’FARRELL

BOULDER CITY

Go out to bid

To the editor:

I for one am tired of Republic Services trying to take advantage of the taxpayers. If I recall, they were able to negotiate a long-term contract that had all the look of a payoff to some of the elected officials. Once they were able to get a long-term trash-hauling contract, then they wanted to better that by reducing service, of course without reducing compensation.

Well, here is a novel idea: If Republic Services has decided it doesn’t like the favorable treatment it received and it wants to somehow sweeten the deal, then let’s do this: cancel the current contract, then go out for competitive bids with a limit of a five-year contract.

Then and only then can the taxpayers see what kind of a deal they’re getting – hopefully not a commissioner payoff, but one where the contract goes to the lowest bidder.

BRYCE LEE

LAS VEGAS

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