TWENTYNINEPALMS, Calif. -

The Marine Corps is hoping to deploy some four-footed recruits in the Mojave Desert - about 500 threatened desert tortoises.
   
The Los Angeles Times says the hatchlings live in a special 5-acre facility at the Twentynine Palms Marine Base that's protected from predators by wire and netting.
   
The slow-growing tortoises may need a year or more before they're big enough to be released into the desert.
   
The $100,000-a-year protection program began in 2006 under a partnership between the Marine Corps and UCLA.
   
The tortoise is threatened by development, off-road vehicles, disease and predators such as ravens. The Marines take their survival seriously. Every Marine training at Twentynine Palms gets a video lecture about the animals and troops are warned to halt training when a tortoise is spotted.