A lack of funds at The Desert Tortoise Conservation Center, located outside Las Vevas, Nevada, will cause the sanctuary to close its doors and euthanize about half of its 1,400 tortoise residents, reports the Associated Press.
The facility was created in 1990 when the overdevelopment—namely McMansions, solar plants, and strip malls—of the turtles’ native habitats caused the critters to be put on the endangered species list.
The center previously upheld a $1 million annual budget, mostly fueled by “raking in funds from fees imposed on real estate developers who chose to build on the tortoises’ habitats,” reports the AP. But the housing market collapse in 2008 caused that fund pipeline to dry up. And, as a result, The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) simply can’t allocate any more money for another year.
“With the money going down and more and more tortoises coming in, it never would have added up,” said BLM spokeswoman Hillerie Patton to the AP.
Many of these ill-fated residents are too feeble to survive in the outside world, but there is a small silver lining: The sturdiest few will be released in the wild to live onwards in the Nevadan plains.