Members of the public, often well-intentioned, have attempted to release, have released, or described releases of captive tortoises at the Desert Tortoise Research Natural Area in the western Mojave Desert, national and state parks, and on public land in the desert. What should you do when you see someone releasing a captive tortoise in the desert? This situation may be easy or difficult, depending on your status (e.g. if you are a government employee or government contractor) and on the advisability of contacting the person who is engaged in the release. Government employees and contractors have courteously and successfully intervened in some situations, provided information about the laws to the owners of the captives, and have taken the captive tortoises for placement at an approved adoption facility (see Chapter 4, What To Do If You Find a Tortoise in a Non-Desert City or Town).
If such intervention is not possible or advisable, then the observer can telephone law
enforcement officers and/or government agencies provided in Tables 2 and 3. If possible, the
observer/rescuer should try to secure information about the vehicle (make, model, color, and
license plate number) used by the person engaged in the release. In addition, the location of the release should be noted, using landmarks such as road names and distance from road junctions, and
numbers of telephone or transmission line poles.