October 9, 2008

Mojave Max tortoise successor chosen

By Mary Manning
Las Vegas Sun

Mojave Max.

A 10-pound successor to the Mojave Max legacy at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area has been selected to carry on educating people about their role and responsibility in the health of the Mojave Desert.

The new Mojave Max is a healthy 19-year-old male who will carry on the tradition of predicting spring-like weather conditions in Clark County, which is part of the Mojave Desert.

For now, Mojave Max will be temporarily housed at the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center until he can be moved to the Red Rock center in 2010 after remodeling, the Bureau of Land Management said today. The Desert Tortoise Conservation Center, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is not open to the public because rescued and quarantined tortoises are kept there.

Clark County has sponsored a Mojave Max emergence contest so school children can guess when the tortoise will leave his burrow in the spring. The contest will continue on schedule.

The new Mojave Max's age is estimated at 19 years old, a youngster in tortoise ages. Desert tortoises can live longer than 50 years.

In August 2005 Mojave Max was turned into Clark County. No one knows where he came from, but he might have been a backyard pet, the Bureau of Land Management said.

Mojave Max was picked up along Interstate 15 and turned into the Gabriel Humane Society. In turn, the California Turtle and Tortoise Club was contacted and he was returned to Southern Nevada.

On June 30, the first Mojave Max died of natural causes at an estimated age of 65 years old at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

The Mojave Max Emergence Contest encourages students to study the conditions of the Mojave Desert and the behaviors of desert species and then predict when the live Mojave Max will emerge from his burrow each spring. The original Mojave Max emerged as early as Feb. 14 and as late as April 14 during his nine-year tenure.

The 2009 Mojave Max Emergence Contest will start and emergence predictions will be accepted from Clark County school students beginning Nov. 1 at www.mojavemax.com.