‘Mojave Max’ tortoise seen outside burrow in sign of spring

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 Local officials say they see a sign of spring in southern Nevada with the emergence of a desert tortoise from a winter form of hibernation in an enclosure at a federal preserve outside Las Vegas.

Clark County conservation program spokeswoman Heather Green said Wednesday the tortoise dubbed Mojave Max was seen above-ground Tuesday near the visitor center at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

The debut was among the latest in the 18-year history of a contest that lets Las Vegas-area schoolchildren guess the time and date the local representative of the endangered species will emerge from its winter burrow.

The earliest was Feb. 14, 2005. The latest was April 17, 2012.

Officials like to compare Mojave Max in Nevada with the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania.

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