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December 07, 2016
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Regional people are turtle lovers

This big snapper was crossing the road when columnist Jonathan Fox stopped to help it along in its journey.
TRR photo by Jonathan Fox

UPPER DELAWARE VALLEY — It turns out that many people who read The River Reporter’s posts on Facebook like turtles enough to help them safely on their way when they see them facing danger in the middle of a road. TRR columnist Jonathan Fox helped a snapper off the road recently, and it sparked quite a few comments on Facebook. The question was: “When you see this guy in the road... do you stop & help him cross safely?”

Morgan Outdoors: “Always! We carry a strong old broomstick to speed up road crossings. Turtle bites it, pick stick up with 2 hands, release on the other side!”

The River Reporter: “What’s the best way to handle these guys? Hints?”

Kristin Porter: “Distance! They are faster than they look and that mouth is sharp! Good broomstick idea posted above though, thanks for sharing!”

Lorraine Allen: “Definitely! And I don’t get my hands anywhere near those stretchy-necked buggers. I generally gently (and alertly) nudge them with an extended foot to get them to keep moving. That often works. Maybe I should consider keeping the small snow shovel I throw in the car for the winter. It would come in quite handy for ‘rescuing’ snapping turtles.”

Anita DePiano Laughlin: “Grab their shell in between their front feet and back feet!! Their head can’t reach back that far and their back feet can’t reach to scratch you!!!”

Scott Rando: “A flat bladed shovel can be used to carry it to where it was headed; ‘scoot’ it gently from behind with the blade to the ground if too large to be carried on the shovel, but... safety first! Size up the situation for road hazards and if it is safe, do the move.”

Marci MacLean: “Yes, I stopped traffic both ways on Rt. 652 to let one cross and all cars gave me a thumbs up.”

Jessica Ayer: “Best method... use your hands. As long as you are mindful of the turtle’s mouth and feet and can quickly get it to safety; it’s fail proof and no tools needed. I’ve been doing this for at least a decade and never ever had an issue.”

Roseanne Elizabeth: “Yep... and I always carry a net, collar, and leash for other critters. Also stopped traffic after the toll from NJ to PA to get a snapper to safety. He was quite big and I wondered how I could do it. Some very nice young man in back of me got out of his car and helped me get him out of harm’s way. The remaining line of cars, who waited a few minutes, actually applauded us. Goes to show that there are very many good people out there!

Ramona Jan: “Yes. I’ve done it many times and they thank me for it.”

Wendy Donnini: “Done it! Snapping turtle as big as my steering wheel nearly wedged himself under my front seat. Took him to a lake and let him go. Made me happy.”

Jennifer Canfield: “I keep score for how many I can save... always escort them in the direction they’re going.”

[For expert tips on moving turtles, see our 2010 column with advice from local wildlife rehabilitator Kathy Michell at www.riverreporter.com/issues/10-06-10/rivertalk.html. Also see the letter to the editor for one turtle’s story.]