Mojave desert tortoises granted temporary endangered species status

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In this Sept. 3, 2008, file photo, an endangered desert tortoise sits in the middle of a road at the proposed location of three BrightSource Energy solar-energy generation complexes in the eastern Mojave Desert near Ivanpah, Calif. (Reed Saxon/Associated Press)

In this Sept. 3, 2008, file photo, an endangered desert tortoise sits in the middle of a road at the proposed location of three BrightSource Energy solar-energy generation complexes in the eastern Mojave Desert near Ivanpah, Calif. (Reed Saxon/Associated Press)

The California Fish and Game Commission on Wednesday granted temporary endangered species status to the Mojave desert tortoise when it agreed to consider the dusty, armored herbivore as a candidate for permanent listing.

The protection came with the panel’s 4-0 decision to consider a petition filed by the Defenders of Wildlife, the Desert Tortoise Council, and the Desert Tortoise Preserve Committee. The groups argued that elevating the reptile’s existing status from threatened to endangered could bolster efforts to “reverse the very real likelihood that the desert tortoise will become extinct in California.”

As a candidate for listing, a species is typically afforded the same protections as a state endangered species pending a final decision.

While there is no difference in the protections offered a species listed as threatened or endangered under the California Endangered Species Act, officials said, endangered species have higher priority and funding for conservation measures such as habitat protection, recovery efforts and mitigation measures to reduce the impacts of projects.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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