Desert Tortoise Council

Conserving desert tortoises and their habitats

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  • Health Assessment Training Course - Spring 2019- Phoenix, AZ

Health Assessment Training Course - Spring 2019- Phoenix, AZ

  • 02 Apr 2019
  • 8:00 AM (UTC-07:00)
  • 05 Apr 2019
  • 1:30 PM (UTC-07:00)
  • Arizona Game and Fish Department; Phoenix, AZ.
  • 0


  • Registrants paying for the April 2019 Health Assessment Training Course

Registration is closed

Course Description: Health Assessment Procedures for Translocations of Mojave Desert Tortoises is an advanced training module for desert tortoise field workers and researchers designed and organized by a highly experienced cooperative group of federal, state, county, and independent biologists and wildlife veterinarians.This course prepares students to conduct the standardized health assessments that are required by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service prior to and following the translocation of desert tortoises from project sites. Information is presented through lectures and specialized hands-on training using live desert tortoises. Students’ understanding of the concepts taught in the course and ability to conduct health assessments and collect biological samples will be evaluated by course instructors. Evaluation will include a written exam and practical exam. During the practical exam students will be evaluated on the following seven skills: Handling, Biosecurity, Physical Exam/Body Condition Scoring, Oral Swab, Subcarapacial Venipuncture, Epicoelomic Fluid Administration, and Sample Processing. 

Prerequisite: Assessing health and collecting biological samples are the most sophisticated activities routinely permitted by USFWS for Desert Tortoises and are not appropriate tasks for novice individuals. In order to maximize the educational benefit for students and use class time as effectively as possible, prospective students should be familiar with basic tortoise biology, behavior, and natural history and have experience in basic skills such as identifying sex and weighing and measuring tortoises.  

In order to secure a spot on the student roster, the registration page will ask you to confirm that you meet the minimum Tortoise Handling Experience (category #1) and either Desert Experience (category #2) or Education and Research (category #3) as described below.  A detailed prerequisite form will be emailed to you upon receipt of your registration. Please document your experience as requested and submit the form promptly to maintain your spot on the student roster. If you are unable to document the required experience, you will forfeit your spot and be refunded the course fee minus the $20 handling fee.

A. Handled, weighed, and measured wild tortoises or other turtles (any species) on 20 occasions.
B. Handled, weighed, and measured tortoises or other turtles (any species) on 100 occasions (inclusive of A).
C. Attached and removed transmitters to tortoises or other turtles (any species) on 20 occasions (separate from A).
D. Assisted (handling/holding) with health assessments of tortoises or other turtles (any species) on 20 occasions under direct supervision of permitted personnel (separate from A).
E. Observed desert tortoises in the wild on 100 occasions AND handled, weighed, and measured tortoises or other turtles (any species) on 40 occasions (inclusive of A).


Three years of desert field experience.


A.  Advanced degree in medicine, veterinary medicine, herpetology, wildlife biology, or closely related field.
B. Training and experience with biological sample collection, including blood on other chelonians or wildlife species.

Cancellation/Refund Policy: Cancellations must be received three weeks prior to the course (Tuesday, March 12 at midnight) for a refund minus a $60.00 handling fee.

After March 12, 75% of the registration fees are forfeit (unless we are able to fill the spot; minus a $60.00 handling fee).

After March 26, all funds will be forfeit (unless we are able to fill the spot; minus a $60.00 handling fee).

Email to (cc: is sufficient to request cancellation

Equipment to Bring: Please bring your clean personal tortoise processing field gear. This should include a scale (and string or tape, if spring scale), multi-tool (or tweezers, hemostats, or pliers), calipers, clipboard, pens/pencils, a fine point Sharpie, a small portable cooler, and a camera. Gloves, health sampling supplies, and disinfectant will be provided.

Attire: Dress such that you are comfortable in both a classroom and field setting. Many tortoise handling sessions (including testing) will be outdoors in a field-like setting (hat and water bottle recommended). Videographers may be present, and we ask that clothing provide sufficient coverage during activities that will involve bending, squatting, and sitting in various positions (e.g., long tops or a shirt wrapped around the waist may be helpful).

When you have completed your registration,  a detailed agenda and information page will be emailed to you.

Copyright ©  Desert Tortoise Council.
The Desert Tortoise Council is a non-profit organization incorporated under IRS code 501(c)3.
Desert Tortoise Council, 4654 East Avenue S #257B, Palmdale, CA 93552.

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