Holly Payne, general curator at Living Desert State Park, said there were only 30 adult Bolson tortoises remaining in the U.S. in 2006. Today, there are 176. Right, Payne holds a 2010 Bolson hatchling. (Tyler Green – Daily Press)

Holly Payne, general curator at Living Desert State Park, said there were only 30 adult Bolson tortoises remaining in the U.S. in 2006. Today, there are 176. Right, Payne holds a 2010 Bolson hatchling. (Tyler Green – Daily Press)

Bolson nearly an endangered species

By TYLER GREEN
Daily Press Staff Writer

The Living Desert State Park in Carlsbad is working to restore a population of tortoises that were once common in the Chihuahuan desert in the United States.

General Curator Holly Payne has been working in cooperation with the Turner Endangered Species Fund to increase the captive population of Bolson tortoises in an attempt to re-introduce them into their native habitat in the US.

The Bolson was once found in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona but now only exists in captivity in the US and a small wild population in Mexico. It is listed as a vulnerable species that is likely to become endangered unless the circumstances threatening its survival and reproduction improve.

Bolson populations declined mostly due to over-collecting for food and the pet trade. Also, the incursion of roads, railroads and agricultural development have accelerated the decline of the species in the last 40 years. In addition, adult Bolsons are not sexually mature until they are 12-years-old and their eggs are vulnerable to predators; resulting in few hatchlings reaching reproduction age. … For the rest of the story, subscribe in print and on the web.