Turtle S.O.S.: Save Our Shells!

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Trouble in paradise.

It's June and that means those crazy turtles are once again roaming dirt side roads and busy highways alike; intent on finding mates, water and good nesting places as they have always done, paying no mind to the deadly wheels zooming past. I stop for a lot of turtles at this time of the year and so far we have all lived to fight another day. However I have never seen a turtle stuck in the bone-dry and baking-hot rink at the Luskville Community Centre before. Bad turtle terrain for sure.

Luckily this sprightly individual was moving steadily and seemed deeply irritated to be interrupted, so I can only assume he/she had not been in there for very long.

Seems like a good time to talk about how to tackle these little monsters. My attempts to "help" turtles advancing across the 148 by applying the toe of my boot to the back of their shell generally results in both of us doing tight circles, risking everyone's lives. One turtle lunged at me so violently it actually flipped onto its back, which was counterproductive to say the least.

The best and fastest way is to get in there and simply lift them up. A few things to note:

1. They hate this.

2. They are very strong and surprisingly heavy.

3. They will try and scratch your hands away with their mighty back legs while also trying to bite you in half, so they are hard to keep hold of. 

4. They can also urinate copiously.

My personal advice is to always travel with gloves, although I have picked up a turtle with two cloth shopping bags. Get in right at the back and jam your fingers into his "back pockets" [as I think of them] so you have a good grip. Tilt the turtle forwards so any urine pours away from you and don't waste time. Get him/her across the road and into the long wet grass on the other side without delay. Don't take a turtle back the way it came or it will have to start all over again. They know where they are going, so it's pointless arguing.

That's better. It takes ages for turtles to mature and reproduce so every one of them counts, as you can imagine. If you do see one on the side of the road, please please please stop and help, if at all possible.

The Carapace Project, part of Nature Conservancy Canada, was created to record turtle sightings, even those of dead ones, across the province. You may have seen the yellow stickers on the backs of cars in the area. The sighting form is easy to fill in; however they do insist that you add at least one picture which helps them identifiy the actual breed of the turtle, as well as its size and condition. Also note the approximate area of the place you saw it, using the civic numbers or the nearest crossroads.

Go to www.carapace.ca for more information, as well as a photo gallery for identification and a lengthy FAQ section with more turtle-helping advice.

Thank you for your help.

 

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