Border Patrol agents help rescue sacred tortoises

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- A few Border Patrol agents based out of Tucson are being celebrated for recently rescuing a pair of sacred tortoises from a mining pit on the Tohono O’odham Nation.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the agents were patrolling the Chukut Kuk District when they discovered two Sonoran Desert tortoises trapped in a 10-foot hole under thick debris.

Officials with the Tohono O’odham Nation’s Department of Natural Resources were called and they took custody of the area.

The Sonoran Desert tortoise is considered sacred by many people on the Tohono O’odham Nation.

Following the rescue, Chukut Kuk District chairman Verlon Jose said they’re thankful for the effort put forth by the Border Patrol.

“We appreciate the Border Patrol’s assistance in rescuing the tortoises,” said Jose. “The turtle is a sacred animal and is much revered as told in our teachings.”

The Border Patrol said they consider preserving the natural landscape an important priority.

“The preservation of our valuable natural and cultural resources is of great importance to Customs and Border Protection and we are fully engaged in efforts that consider environmental impact as we work to secure our nation’s borders,” said Tucson Sector Acting Chief Patrol Agent Manuel Padilla.