King of The Hammers Desert Tortoise Protection Guide

In an effort to protect our natural resources in the Johnson Valley off-highway vehicle area Hammerking productions Inc has created this handout to educate participants in the proper methods for protection of the desert Tortoise.

If you witness a desert tortoise on or near the race course please radio King of the Hammers race operations at 151.625. at once. King of the Hammers Desert Tortoise contact representative is Shannon Welch.


If you travel in the Sonoran, Mojave or Colorado deserts in spring, late summer, or fall, you might see tortoises crossing dirt or paved roads. Such tortoises are likely to be crushed by vehicles because they don't try to escape. When frightened, they withdraw into the shell and remain motionless and may be hit by an oncoming car.


You must make some decisions. Is it likely that another vehicle will travel along the stretch of road and hit the tortoise? If you are on a remote, rarely-travelled track, then you may wish to drive around the tortoise, taking care not to injure it or damage any vegetation. If you are on a well-travelled road and there is a chance that another vehicle will travel along the stretch of road and hit the tortoise, then you should move it out of harms way.


Stop your car in a safe place along the roadside. Approach the tortoise from the end of the shell with the head. Note the direction the tortoise was traveling. Carry it carefully across the road in the same direction, and take it no more than 150 feet into the desert. If possible, place the tortoise in the shade. Carry the tortoise upright, in its normal walking position, using both hands to hold it. Don't tip it from side to side or upside down. It the tortoise becomes frightened, it may empty its bladder as a defense mechanism. The loss of bladder fluids can place the tortoise under additional stress because tortoises store water in the bladder for use during the dry times of year.




Sometimes tortoises hit by vehicles are still alive. They may have been hit by a glancing blow, cracking the shell or receiving a similar minor injury. In the last 15 years, a few members of the public have contacted tortoise experts and biologists in federal and state agencies about an injured wild tortoise. In virtually all cases, the desert visitor has rescued an injured tortoise and wants to know what to do with it. Each case deserves special treatment. Immediately try to determine who currently has the tortoise, where the tortoise is located, where it was originally found, when it was rescued, and the signs of injury.

For Inyo, Imperial, Riverside and San Bernardino counties:
(909) 484-0167


The Joshua Tree Tortoise Rescue at 760-369-1235.