World Turtle Day is May 23. The nonprofit American Tortoise Rescue created the day 17 years ago to raise awareness around the protection of turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats around the world.
Once plentiful in California, the desert tortoise — Gopherus agassizii — used to be a common backyard pet but has now been designated a threatened species by both the state and federal governments. The population of the official California state reptile has shrunk more than 90 percent, leaving only about 100,000 in the Mojave and Sonoran deserts.
Southern California Edison has a Biological Resources Group dedicated to mitigating SCE’s impact on wildlife. While working on equipment in areas where tortoises are found, SCE takes extra precautions to protect this threatened species as one of the many ways it goes the extra mile in its environmental stewardship.
Since tortoises live in areas that can get as hot as 110 degrees in the summer, the shade beneath a parked heavy-duty SCE work truck can be very inviting. SCE personnel are careful to check their vehicles for any tortoises that may be hanging around.
Sometimes drivers also use “WATCH FOR TORTOISES” cones to place next to their vehicles when they park. Spotters are also assigned to work trucks to help drivers avoid running over tortoises trying to cross the road.
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