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TUCSON, Ariz. ó Some Tucson-based Border Patrol agents are being credited with rescuing two sacred tortoises from a mining pit on the Tohono O'odham Nation.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection say 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 members of the southern Arizona tribe.

Border Patrol officials say they consider preserving the natural landscape an important priority.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

Associated Press,

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