This tortoise is the first animal to use the Oracle Road wildlife crossing – and they haven’t even finished building it yet.
Jesse Espinoza watched this Sonoran desert tortoise (Gopherus morafkai) make its way through the new wildlife underpass, traveling west, before it ran into Granite Construction employees working on the underpass structure on the western end. Espinoza carefully helped the tortoise complete his journey a safe distance from the construction before taking this photo. The Sonoran desert tortoise was recently removed from consideration for protection under the Endangered Species Act, but Arizona law still prohibits the removal of desert tortoises from the wild. Captive bred tortoises are available for adoption.
The wildlife crossing structures, one underpass and one bridge, will link the Tortolita mountains and the Santa Catalina mountains, allow wildlife to safely travel across Oracle Road and reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions. The project has brought together several partners including Sky Island Alliance, Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, Tucson Audubon Society, Pima County Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), the Arizona Department of Transportation, Granite Construction, and the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
On Friday October 16th through Sunday October 18th, volunteers from the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, Sky Island Alliance, Tucson Audubon Society, and the Santa Catalina Catholic Church will work together to install irrigation and plant native plants near the new wildlife overpass in Oro Valley. Please come out and volunteer with us!