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Intro: Listed as an endangered species by both the California and Federal Endangered Species List in 1989 and 1990 its start spread “threatened,” which was just below “endangered” the Gopherus agassizii or better known as the desert tortoise is known as California’s state reptile. This paper will discuss the effects that human involvement has on the Desert Tortoise or in our case the Mojave Desert Tortoise.  The full taxonomic classification of the Mojave Desert Tortoise is Kingdom: Animalia, Phylum: Chordata, Class: Sauropsida, Order: Testudines, Family: Testudinoidea, Genus: Gopherus, Species: Gopherus agassizii. The Mojave Desert Tortoise is a species of tortoise that is found in the Mojave and Sonoran deserts, north and west of the Colorado River. Typically the Mojave Desert Tortoise is found in the southeastern region of Utah, southern Nevada, southeastern region of California and the northwestern region of Arizona. (See Image 1 below).  The Desert Tortoise is known for its high-domed shell and elephant -like legs and is easily distinguishable from turtles. 
(1) The Mojave desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) at one point in time, in some areas of the Mojave desert populations were exceeding 150 tortoises per square kilometer. Declines began happening in abundance with numbers exceeding 20% within local populations across the tortoises distribution. With low numbers like this it means that there are fewer females to procreate with and at this point in time it is seen that there were losses of up to 90% in some of the populations found throughout the Mojave desert. Consequently this then sparks the conversation of adding the Gopherus agassizii to the threatened category of the Endangered Species Act. Though there are plenty of reasons to why the Gopherus agassiziis’ populations have decreased and that is due to the many threats that this species has. The Gopherus agassizii’s threats vary across a wide range. Though most threats on Gopherus agassizii are results from many human activities. A few causes that tend to impact the Gopherus agassizii are that of urban development, mining, waste disposal, energy development and road construction. Nevertheless,  there are those impactions of habitat modifications.  These impacts are caused by that of military training, off-highway vehicle use, livestock grazing, and the increase of invasive plants. The final way that tortoises could be threatened is through predation, disease and recreational killing.  
First, as more people moved into the western deserts, the more people that came west, which meant the more ravens would make there way out west, giving these ravens a keen appetite for hatchling tortoises. The factors that contributed to the increase of the ravens includes more roads, which means that there is more roadkill, power-line poles which is an ideal lookout post for hungry ravens and littering since litter in the parks and streets attract ravens. Added onto the disturbance of human activity is a high number of invasive plant abundance that is increasing throughout the Mojave Desert. By the invasion of invasive plants, it can affect the quality and quantity of plant foods that are available for tortoises to consume and survive. Many of these invasive plants are fire adapted and tend to contribute to the increase of fires throughout the Mojave desert. Finally, there is disease and as stated by the National Park Service (NPS), “with the release into the wild of former pet tortoises during the past several decades, a deadly bacterial infection began to appear more frequently among wild tortoises. Upper Respiratory Tract Disease attacks the tortoise’s respiratory system and can be transmitted through sharing of burrows, or through human handling of tortoises”.
(2) In May 2005, at Ft. Irwin National Training Center implemented a translocation project. The project had translocated 571 tortoises, where all tortoises were monitored monthly for 1 yr prior to the translocation. The tortoises were moved to fourteen widely separated unfenced areas on public lands in a contiguous area of 1000 km2 . The translocated tortoises were released in groups of 10 to 50 per area. Over a three year span, in May 2008 losses of desert tortoises were occurring among all treatment groups in localized areas. When investigated it was scene that the losses were due to predatory events and that it was coyotes killing the tortoises. When it came to the study area that the tortoises were put in is was characterized as being typical Mojave Desert scrub vegetation and had perennial plant cover, covering from one to twenty-nine percent and a elevation range of 500 to 900 meters. The results after those three years are as follows (Peterson 1994, Nussear 2004, 2007), “28 of the 149 control tortoises, 29 of 140 resident tortoises, and 89 of 357 translocated tortoises were found dead during the first year of the translocation project”. It is thought that it was from the tortoises being overtly healthy, which they became food for predators. The evidence to prove this is because of the predation that was seen due to the fresh predator tracks, scat and chew marks seen on the carcasses.
When the investigation of the deceased tortoises was being looked into it was seen that the tortoises were most likely to experience mortality in areas were there was an elevation in human population. It was indicated after the investigation that the tortoises were more likely to suffer death in flat, open areas than in higher-elevation areas. A pattern that seems to occur in this translocation was that coyotes were killing where there was a large amount of human populations nearby. These results are consistent with previous analyses in the region where tortoise mortalities were significantly correlated with the surface disturbances, trash, and proximity to offices and paved roads that are typical characteristics of human-populated areas. Along with this there are urbanized areas and resources that are provided by humans that can then elevate predator populations. This is where it should be taken into consideration, the construction of new roads, housing developments and other urbanization  that is being built throughout the Mojave Desert and how it is jeopardizing these tortoises living space.
(3)Finally, when it comes to realizing that things need to change in order to save and get the Gopherus agassizii off of the Federal Endangered Species Lists. But there are complications that come with this, the biggest complication is that given the long life that Gopherus agassizii have there tend to be a high number of different threats and management actions that can affect populations over time, which means most agencies don’t want to spend the money or give that much time to monitor these reptiles. The threats that are affiliated with Gopherus agassizii are known to have difficulty in finding a solution for because of the large landscapes that these reptiles tend to live in and the numerous potentially affected members of the public in surrounding communities. Numerous threats to Gopherus agassizii cannot be completely eliminated due to their relationship around human population growth and human involved activities like off-roading and building of new neighborhoods, which mean Gopherus agassizii will likely be one of those species that will require permeant protection. Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) they state that there are two characteristics for species that have been delisted and those are “(1) Their decline was primarily the result of a specific, remediable threat, and (2) the risk-management structure necessary to prevent a recurrence of the threat was minimal and could be provided through existing regulatory mechanisms.” (Averill-Murray,2012). Though there are many significant threats to Gopherus agassizii the most seen that needs to change is the amount of human activity in large areas of the species’ distribution.  A new approach has been taken into affect to help Gopherus agassizii and this approach includes two steps: First, there needs to be organization of a coordinated and structured recovery program and second, broad and active participation in the recovery program of these reptiles. Also, the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 2004 started the Desert Tortoise Recovery Office and this was used to focus on the protection and needs of Gopherus agassizii and it was the first time any conservation planning, execution, research and or monitoring had been done for Gopherus agassizii. This is a big step in helping keep these reptiles off the Endangered Species Lists and get them out of that threatened zone.  
In conclusion, writing this paper, there have been multiple processes that have been learned about gathering information on a subject, in this instance it was the Mojave Desert Tortoise and relaying the info I found into a technical and informal writing. With the help of this essay there has been much improvement on one’s outlining and writing techniques. What made this paper helpful was the research that went into it, the note taking, the development of an outline from the different scholarly journals to then create what is now this paper. Overall, this paper has been nothing but beneficial to help with the development of helping with deep researching of articles and becoming a more technical writer. 

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