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Defending turtles

July 10, 2013

I’m just a flatlander, a New York City dweller, residing mostly on the island of Manhattan. Every couple-a-few weeks or so, I venture up to the most beautiful Callicoon on Delaware. My life partner and I vacation on the PA side of Callicoon, a river beach plot with River Road running through the property. It’s just a small cottage with a humble parcel of land. Our neighbor, Seth, has noticed one of our small contributions to the ecology of the area.

The following is from an email conversation along with a request from yours truly, part-time resident of Damascus’ River Road… to the hard driving people (much respect) living and driving cars on all the river roads….

Don Garland

Damascus, PA

Subject: Hello from Seth: turtle eggs

Sent: Sun, Jun 30, 2013, 5:59 p.m.

Hi Gail and Don,

As I was pulling out of my driveway last Friday morning, I look to the left and see a big turtle (snapping, maybe 10 to 15 pounds) sitting in your yard, between your driveway and the first of those two pine trees... maybe eight feet or less from the road. Stupid turtle, right?

Well, I go call Rose and we both look at it; we wonder what to do. I think, well, maybe I could carry it straight back towards your house beyond the creek. That way maybe it won’t march into the path of the pickups and SUVs. So I do that (holding it straight out from me, the poor thing was helpless, snapping its head back and forth). But as I do that, Rose yells that it had been sitting on a hole it dug, filled with marble sized eggs.

So, I gently set it back down where it was, apologize to “Mrs. Turtle,” and we leave it alone…. Rose later took a photo of the hole, turtle no longer in sight (apparently eggs left partly uncovered, deep in the hole)….

Rose looked up some info; apparently no way to safely move the eggs or dig up the hole without killing them. I think she said she read they hatch in 10 to 18 days. (I gotta look up info myself.) Anyway… obviously nothing we can do right now... but I was wondering if maybe you can contact your lawn mower guy and ask him to not mow around the hole, or skip a week or something? At least try to not kill them with his big mower and weed whacker.

Maybe it won’t make any difference; maybe it’s already too late?

But I’ve seen baby turtle hatchlings cross that road a couple times in past years and they are pretty cool and cute (and almost all of them got smashed by cars and eaten by birds before I found them.) But one year I was able to save about six and put them by the river, which they then crawled into. (They always seem intent about crossing the road, heading down the embankment to the river.) They don’t know nuthing about human roads.

That’s all I can say right now... I can pass some news/instructions on to Rose, if you have any ideas.


Reply sent on 7/2/13, 5:52 p.m.

DG wrote: Seth and Rose, I can only say wow, and this is a problem. We need a sign for turtle migration—1/8 mile per hour. It seems like a crass joke, but maybe a sign will help somewhat. Most people in PA are careful types. Then there is those disconnected people that would rather have target practice. Mom turtle picked a bad spot, sadly.