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Below The Surface

Monday, May 30, 2011

Turtle Travel Time

Monday morning, on the commute in, I rescued my first turtle of the season: a painted turtle on Dorset Street near Pond Road. It was facing west, so I took it west into the brush along the road. It was easy enough to do since I was commuting on a motorcycle. Stop, bend down to pick it up, put it on the seat between my legs and drive off onto the shoulder. Probably the first motorcycle ride for the turtle. He pulled his head in when I picked him up and kept it in during the ride; I guess he had a helmet.

Whether or not we broke the helmet law, the annual rise in turtle travels is upon us. Tis the season when turtles start moving out of the water in search of the perfect substrate to lay their eggs. If you find a turtle wandering around and it’s in a bad location, like the middle of Dorset Street, take a moment, do a turtle a favor, and practice a little environmental stewardship: move the turtle to where it seems to be going, to a safer place. Always take it in the direction its going: if you take it back from where it came, it's very likely to turn around and try again.


Why did the Wood turtle Cross the Road?**

Why bother? Turtles are semi-aquatic omnivores. Young turtles consume aquatic invertebrates; things that can grow up to become the insects that buzz and bother us throughout the summer. I think we have enough of those; I'm fine with helping species that consume insects. On the flip side, though one should never flip a turtle, turtles are food for many of the more charismatic species we're more apt to get excited about: the warm, fuzzy or feathered species. Turtles are food for otters, raccoons, fox, coyotes and other mammals. Herons, egrets, birds of prey and other bird species also consume turtles. If you don't get green and environmental for sake of the turtles themselves, do it for the birds and the mammals. If that doesn't cut it, just do it to see how good you feel about it after you do it.

**Why did the wood turtle cross the road? You tell me!

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