FLAGSTAFF — The federal government has agreed to consider whether a desert tortoise whose population has declined by half in the past 20 years warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Two environmental groups petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last year to list the Sonoran desert tortoise found in southwest Arizona and northern Mexico as a distinct population. The agency said Friday that it would review the status of the tortoise and any threats to its habitat.
Michael Connor of the Western Watersheds Project says he expects the scientific review will show that the listing is required to conserve what is an icon of the desert Southwest.