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Army Picks I.T.S. Corporation to Help Preserve Threatened Desert Tortoises in Mojave Desert

I.T.S. to conduct largest translocation study of a threatened or endangered species

OXNARD, Calif., June 4 /PRNewswire/ -- I.T.S. Corporation (ITS), a leading provider of engineering, program management and enterprise technology solutions to the U.S. government, announced today that the U.S. Army has awarded the company a contract for translocation of desert tortoises in the Mojave Desert. Under the terms of the contract, ITS will locate, track, capture, translocate and study the estimated 700-1,000 threatened desert tortoises that currently live on part of the U.S. Army's National Training Center (NTC) at Ft. Irwin, Calif. The contract is valued at approximately $6.9 million over five years.

Desert tortoises, native to the Mojave, are important members of the desert ecosystem. Ranging up to roughly a foot long and weighing up to 12 pounds, the tortoises have been known to live more than 50 years. They primarily eat spring annual plants and get most of their water from infrequent desert rainfall: they survive in their harsh environment by storing food and water and taking shelter underground. Most desert tortoises spend a large part of the year in a relatively small area, although long distance movements of several miles have been documented. Research on the state and federally threatened desert tortoises has shown that disruption of their habitats and routines can stress them dangerously.

Because of the large number of desert tortoises involved and the size of the NTC expansion site -- which covers 24,000 acres in the Mojave Desert -- the Ft. Irwin translocation will be the largest project of its kind ever undertaken. In addition to finding, tracking and relocating the desert tortoises, ITS will monitor the tortoises for the duration of the contract, including after their movement to assigned translocation sites. The ITS team will research the effects of translocation on the tortoises' reproduction and nutrition to help determine the best methods for relocating these long-lived desert vegetarians. The result will be scientifically valid, publishable findings that will be important to future projects of this kind.

"The desert tortoise translocation project is a great example of the Army's dedication to minimizing its impact on threatened or endangered wildlife, and ITS has the breadth and depth of experience to make this project a reality," said Dr. Jonathon Belmont, ITS' scientific, environmental and engineering director of environmental programs. "Virtually every military installation worldwide has a threatened or endangered species within its boundaries, and the scientific information ITS will generate with this translocation will undoubtedly help other bases and other species."

The ITS Scientific, Environmental and Engineering Services business unit will oversee the desert tortoise translocation contract. ITS is partnering with Conservation Science Research & Consulting (CSRC) and Kiva Biological Consulting to conduct this highly integrated, multi-disciplinary research and monitoring program. All data collected will be managed by the Mojave Desert Ecosystem Program (MDEP), an interagency program that compiles and integrates a very large body of spatial and temporal information covering approximately 80,000 square miles, to provide dynamic, sustainable land management decision- making at the ecosystem level in a centralized database built and managed collectively by the ITS team and the MDEP. Scientists on the team will address hypothesis-driven monitoring and research goals while conducting all aspects of the Army's translocation program. Due to the unique and significant nature of this translocation project, the ITS team will include academics from eight research institutions. These research organizations include Smithsonian Institution, University of California, Riverside, University of California, Los Angeles, California State University, San Marcos, San Diego State University, University of Florida, University of Wyoming and CSRC.

"The ultimate goal is to minimize stress to the desert tortoises, while learning as much as we can about the ecology and management of these fascinating animals," said Dr. William I. Boarman, principal investigator and lead scientist of the project and proprietor of CSRC.

As part of an earlier contract, ITS began working with the Army in 2006 on finding the desert tortoises that live in the NTC area. ITS expects that it will take another one to two months of field work to locate and radio-tag all of the desert tortoises in the affected area before translocation can begin.

About ITS

ITS Corporation (http://www.itscorporation.com/), an ISO 9001:2000 registered subsidiary corporation of QinetiQ North America, provides award- winning IT and engineering solutions to the U.S. military, intelligence and homeland security communities, and to other branches of the Federal government. ITS' core competencies include systems development and integration, acquisition management support, program management, business information management, studies and analyses, and enterprise management and security. ITS' superior performance record is exemplified by the company's seven consecutive years of being ranked #1 in overall customer satisfaction on the GSA ANSWER contract.

I.T.S. Corporation

CONTACT: Rosanne Satterfield of I.T.S. Corporation, +1-800-669-1681,
ext. 209, [email protected]; or Michael Rudd of Boscobel Marketing
Communications, Inc., +1-301-588-2900 ext. 115, [email protected], for I.T.S.

Web site: http://www.itscorporation.com/

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