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PHOENIX -- Arizona wildlife officials said residents should leave desert tortoises in the wild.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department recently announced that last year 71 desert tortoises were turned over to their office.

Officials said every year well-meaning people turn over desert tortoises to the department but eventually captive tortoises can't be returned to the wild.

The department said captive desert tortoises pose a threat to wild tortoise populations by way of upper-respiratory disease.

The desert tortoise, when left undisturbed, can live to be 100 years old. They weigh about 7 to 13 pounds and lay up to 15 eggs between the months of May and July.

The tortoise is a protected species in Arizona.

Associated Press,

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