By Kacie Leach
Nevadans might be saying goodbye to their state animal sooner than they think. It is not a surprise that the desert tortoises have slowly been decreasing in number. Since 1990 the creature has been labeled as endangered and by law is forbidden to be hunted or killed. Unfortunately for these reptiles, a place that was once a sanctuary will close its doors.
The New Year doesn’t bring new life for the desert tortoises. The Desert Tortoise Conservation Center in Las Vegas has been sheltering desert tortoises for 23 years, and now the home of these reptiles is scheduled to be shut down in 2014 due to a lack of federal funds. Because of the loss of financial viability, the tortoises are the ones that will suffer.
Approximately 50 to 60 percent of the 1,400 tortoises living in the Conservation Center are sick. Because such a large percentage of the animals are ill, the government has come to the conclusion that euthanizing these endangered creatures is the best option. As for the healthy desert tortoises, they will be released out into the wild, leaving behind their sick, roommates to die.
Two Coronado students, Madison Vogt and Bree Skeirik, both sophomores, decided to take a stand and start a petition to help the desert tortoises on Change.org.
“I was very confused and upset about how inhumane this is. I really wanted a tortoise as a pet, and while I was looking at information about them, I stumbled across the story on euthanizing them. I decided to do something and help the tortoises,” Vogt said.
The petition reached 804 signatures as of December 30, 2013, but they still need more to stop the government from euthanizing the desert tortoises. This petition has made more people aware of the situation, and many have spoken up about the matter. Some people are even leaving comments under the petition for others to see.
“I think it’s a horrible choice to not help the tortoises, either by not funding facilities to keep them safe or by not working to keep them healthy. Because we are at the top of Darwin’s ladder and because we are the biggest and the strongest, it’s our responsibility and our job to make sure the world is a nice, safe place for everything else living here, too. It’s our job to protect them. Who are we to decide who or what lives or dies? Who are we to play God and kill off an entire species of animals? That’s not our job. It’s not anyone’s. What the government is doing is wrong,” Katie Schmidt, junior, said.