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Agency: Sonoran desert tortoise doesn't need US protection

Federal officials say Sonoran desert tortoises have a relatively stable population and don't require protection from environmental threats.

TUCSON, Ariz — Editor's Note: The above video is from an earlier broadcast.

Federal officials have concluded that Sonoran desert tortoises native to Arizona have a relatively stable population that doesn’t need protection from environmental threats. 

Conservation groups say they’re still not convinced that the reptiles’ well-being is a sure thing but the Arizona Cattle Growers Association welcomed the decision. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Monday that the tortoise doesn’t warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act because a scientific study “determined that it is not at risk of extinction in the foreseeable future.” 

The decision capped a review ordered by a federal judge after conservationists sued to block a previous decision in 2015 against listing the tortoise as a threatened species.

In Arizona, tortoises are found in suitable habitat in all Arizona counties except for Apache, Coconino, Greenlee and Navajo, according to the federal agency.

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