AZ Game & Fish looking for homes for desert tortoises

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Desert tortoises grow to be 9-15 inches long and can weigh up to 15 pounds. Barring illness or accidents, they live for 50-80 years. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) Desert tortoises grow to be 9-15 inches long and can weigh up to 15 pounds. Barring illness or accidents, they live for 50-80 years. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
(Source: KPHO/KTVK) (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
(Source: KPHO/KTVK) (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
(Source: KPHO/KTVK) (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

The Arizona Game & Fish Department is planning a large adoption event to help find new homes for about 60 desert tortoises.

"We've been having an issue with people breeding in their homes or people need to surrender their tortoise, and they have nowhere to go," Tegan Wolf said.

Wolf is the desert tortoise adoption specialist for Arizona Game & Fish

She said they've had about 300 tortoises end up at their center over the past year.

"This is one that came in, someone got it from a friend but didn't know how to care for it properly," she said, introducing us to one of them.

There are so many desert tortoises that Wolf says they don't have names, but rather numbers to keep track of them all.

To help make room, Game and Fish started an adoption program for the tortoises.

There is no fee, but there is an application and certain requirements you have to meet, including having an appropriate habitat and burrow.

[INFOGRAHPIC: Desert tortoise fast facts]

"You'll send in pictures with the filled-out application," Wolf explained. "We'll review it and then we'll let you know whether or not you've been approved."

Their next big adoption event is Sept. 5.

"We just want to make sure they go to good homes," Wolf said.

Warren Wen's home is a great example.

He has adopted four desert tortoises from Game and Fish.

"They need a lot of space to walk around," he said. "They don't need a lot of attention, but occasionally they do want that."

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He gave our crew a tour of his backyard setup, including the burrows he built, some out of old broken planters, others out of cinder blocks.

"You build a wall and roof and they will do the basement," he said.

All four of his tortoises are males, so he doesn't have to worry about adding to the over-population problem, but Game and Fish is working on another way to crack down on that.

"Starting in December it's going to be illegal for our captive desert tortoises to be breeding in the home, so if you have a male and a female, we definitely recommend that you split them up," Wolf said.

Click here for more information about adopting a tortoise from Game and Fish

Desert tortoise fast facts

Copyright 2015 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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