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Super Bloom Traffic Endangers Joshua Tree Tortoises

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Joshua Tree National Park. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
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National Park Service officials have warned visitors to be mindful of wildlife after three tortoises were killed in Joshua Tree recently, according to the LA Times. Joshua Tree has become incredible popular in recent years, more than likely because of California's newfound cultural relevance (desert aesthetic now runs far and wide), so the advent of super bloom in the desert means the arid park has been consistently overrun with visitors. The super bloom doesn't just attract people, though; the flowers have brought more of the local species out to feed. Namely tortoises, who are "eating and foraging like crazy," according to Pasadena Star News. Unfortunately, this has meant the tortoises have had tragic interactions with recent visitors.

Three tortoises were killed by cars over the span of a week, and normally the park sees one such death a year. As a result, officials are urging visitors to be mindful and look out for wildlife when they visit the parks. They told the Associated Press that "objects that may look like a rock or branch on a road could be one of the Joshua Tree's resident animals." According to the National Park Service, tortoises are "'threatened,' just one notch below 'endangered.'" If visitors continue to disregard the tortoises, it could threaten their threatened status even more.

The danger of too much foot traffic has extended to the flowers as well, with locations like Diamond Valley Lake closing its super bloom path over the weekend to better enforce the boundaries between visitors and the wildlife.