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California Desert District
Release Date: 12/18/09
Contacts: David Briery , (951) 697-5220  
  Steve Razo , (951) 697-5217  
News Release No. CA-CDD-10-24

Mojave Max Emergence Contest Officially Opens

The Bureau of Land Management, a partner of the Desert Managers Group (DMG), announces the official opening of the fifth annual California Mojave Max Emergence Contest.  California’s Mojave Max is a female tortoise approximately 30 years old who lives at The Living Desert in Palm Desert, Calif.  The object of the contest sponsored by the DMG is to guess when Mojave Max will emerge from her burrow for the first time after a long winter sleep (brumation). Each fall, when the weather turns cold, desert tortoises brumate, a reptilian form of hibernation.

This year Mojave Max went into her burrow sometime during Thanksgiving weekend. Last Feb. 24, she had emerged at 1:52 p.m., while the previous year she emerged on Feb. 10. 

Students in grades 1-12, as well as youth groups, from Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Ventura counties may enter the contest.  Contestants should go on-line to and register their guesses for when Mojave Max will emerge from her burrow for the first time in 2010.  Winners and their classes or groups will receive prizes.

The contest is designed to increase understanding of desert ecosystems and how the desert tortoise and other native organisms are affected when ecosystems change.  Desert tortoises are California’s state reptile; they are also listed on federal and state endangered species list as threatened.

In California, the program was launched by the DMG, a collaborative partnership of local, state, and federal agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management, responsible for the management of public desert lands.  The DMG has also developed “Tortoise Education Trunks” as part of its desert tortoise outreach campaign.  Tortoise trunks is an activity-based curriculum package for third through sixth graders that satisfies state standards for science and social science requirements for those grades.  For more information, contact Lorna Lange, education specialist at Joshua Tree National Park, (760) 367-3011 or Anne Staley, desert tortoise outreach coordinator at Joshua Tree National Park (760) 367-5528.


California Desert District   22835 Calle San Juan de Los Lagos, Moreno Valley, CA 92553  

Last updated: 12-18-2009