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Auteur Topic: Glyptemys insculpta (Woodturtle)  (gelezen 28023 keer)

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« Antwoord #15 Gepost op: 11 Oktober 2008, 21:12:35 »

STAR-LEDGER (Newark, New Jersey) 18 October 06 No shell game here: Turtle foils ballfields (Rohina Phadnis)
The wood turtle packs a lot of punch for its 5- to 9-inch size -- enough to halt Bedminster's plans to build athletic fields at River Road Park.
The state Department of Environmental Protection has rejected Bedminster's request for permis sion to build recreational fields near environmentally sensitive areas of the 177-acre park off Route 202/206, near the North Branch of the Raritan River, saying it would disturb the habitat of wood turtles, a reptile on the state list of threatened species.
The township acquired the land for River Road Park in 1989 with funding from the state Green Acres program. The site was subdivided in 1995 into two sections -- 28.5 acres for "active" recreation and the remaining portion -- named The Stahl Natural Area -- dedicated for "passive" use.
A spokesman from the DEP said Bedminster received a viola tion notice in 2003 for starting construction in the park and moving soil. In May 2005, the township submitted a waiver application to allow construction in the environmentally-sound area while protecting other portions of the site. The waiver was denied this month.
In its notification to Bedmin ster, the DEP said the proposed construction at River Road Park would "result in the disturbance of a transition area that is critical habitat for wood turtles, a state threatened species."
The wood turtle was listed as threatened in 1979 because of a decline in its numbers. The turtles are small enough to fit in the palm of a hand and can be sighted from early spring to mid-fall throughout most of New Jersey.
According to wildlife experts, most wood turtles -- identified by sculptured growth rings on their shells -- live 40 years or more in a home range of a few acres near streams, rivers and ponds. And destruction of their habitat is suffi cient to exterminate them.
The state is closing the case of the original notice of violation be cause restoring the soil would further disturb the turtle's habitat, a DEP spokesman said.
The DEP denial of the township's proposal to preserve parts of the park while developing others closer to environmentally sensitive areas means the project is now on hold.
Mayor Bob Holtaway said the township would review the DEP findings.
Phoebe Weseley -- a member of a group of residents who hired an environmental consultant to study the area -- said she was concerned about how little the township had studied the property before start ing construction.
"Why should we have to spend our own personal money to find if there's endangered species?" she asked.
"By not following the DEP rules here, in my view, they're setting a horrible precedent," said Bill Purcell about Bedminster's waiver ap plication to the DEP. He said he would like to see the Stahl Natural Area put into a conservation easement to legally reserve it.

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« Antwoord #16 Gepost op: 11 Oktober 2008, 21:13:52 »

CHESTER OBSERVER TRIBUNE (New Jersey) 12 October 06 Wood turtles get special attention; Great Swamp refuge project hopes to protect species (Christina Mucciolo)
Harding Twp.: For 10 years, threatened wood turtles went unseen in the vicinity of the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, until a graduate student came across one that had been run over by a car last summer.
That student, Susie Ponce, 27, of Texas, helped trigger a program designed to track and save the threatened wood turtles in the Great Swamp.
In the summer of 2005, Ponce helped Kurt Buhalmann, a professor at Towson (Md.) University to catch, tag with radio transmitters, and track bog turtles at the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, when they came across the dead wood turtle.
"We found a dead wood turtle on one of the main roads in the Great Swamp, and Kurt Buhalmann, who has been doing work at the refuge (Great Swamp) for many summers, recommended I do an artificial nesting habitat for the wood turtles, and I took the idea to the next level," Ponce said on Sunday.
Ponce was participating in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Student Experience Career Program at the Great Swamp, which allows graduate students to go to school and work, by getting field experience during the summers.
Ponce did her undergraduate study at Texas Agricultural and Mining University in College Station, Texas, and is in her last year at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., studying part-time for a master's degree in environmental science. She also is working at the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service Patuxent Research Refuge in Laurel, Md.
With some help from her counterparts at the Great Swamp, including her supervisor, wildlife biologist Mike Horne, she spent last summer, constructing, testing, and monitoring artificial turtle nesting habitats in the swamp to find out more about a species that is endangered in New Jersey, the wood turtle.
"Wood turtles are not on the federally endangered list, but they are species of special concern in New Jersey, as they are on the state's threatened list," Ponce said, "They used to be very abundant, and now the numbers have declined."
Stream degradation is one reason for the declining numbers, as wood turtles require clear water, and Ponce said, with a lot of urbanization and impervious services, the storm water runoff gets into the streams and makes the water murky and unpleasant for the turtles.
Another concern in addition to de-forestation and the nesting habitats, is that some people like to collect wood turtles as pets.
"They are extremely intelligent turtles," Ponce said of the shelled sages who accrue their wisdom over an incredible life span of up to 60 years.
The Project
Ponce said there are several objectives to the project, the first being that there has not been a lot of research done on the nesting habitats of turtles, specifically wood turtles.
By designing and constructing a creative habitat for the biological and ecological needs of the turtles, Ponce said she is trying to find some way to reduce predation on the turtle nest, from fox, possums, and other creatures who eat the turtle eggs. In addition she said the boxes provide an arena to effectively evaluate what types of sub straits turtles like to nest in.
"Each turtle has its own natural substrate, or type of spoil, that they prefer, and we were trying to find what substrate they prefer in order to manage the species in decline," Ponce said.
The artificial nesting habitat is made of four boxes, framed of wood and covered with chicken wire, with about a four-inch hole wide enough for the turtles to enter. Ponce said each box contains a different type of sub strait.
"We chose two substrates that turtles nest in at the refuge, soil and sand, and then we had one box with stone dust and one with dirt and gravel aggregate because we saw turtles nesting on the trails and the roads," Ponce said.
"Initially, we started in one particular area where wood turtles historically nested in the habitat," Ponce said. "We saw a lot of snapping turtles and painted turtles nesting in the habitats."
Typically, Ponce said wood turtles mate twice a year, once in the fall when they go back to their hibernation spots near the streams, and once in the spring right before they begin nesting, laying anywhere from four to seven eggs from mid-May through July. Snapping turtles, on the other hand, can lay up to 20 eggs.
"The peak season for turtle nesting is June, so we do the project then, during the busiest nesting season," Ponce said. "Usually after two months, the eggs hatch in late August and September."
At the end of June, Ponce said they closed the ramp and entrance of the nesting boxes, and then during July they put in pitfalls to catch the hatchlings as they emerged, so they could determine which turtles were there by the number of hatchlings and the amount of scat.
Ponce said the wood turtles start walking towards their hibernation spot in late-October and November, where they stay until the weather starts to warm up in March or April. She said the turtles love to hibernate in the undercut areas along stream banks, amid the roots of large trees.
Although no wood turtles have been spotted in the nesting habitats, Ponce said they have spotted about eight wood turtles in the Great Swamp.
"We were just doing a survey of a stream and we happened to find one and we kept searching," she said. "We tagged four wood turtles with radio transmitters."
Then, one very hot day, Ponce said she found something very interesting while doing her daily check of the moisture and temperature of the substrates in the nesting habitats.
"The soil, which has a high clay content was hard, the stone and the dirt and gravel aggregate was hot, but the sand was dry and wasn't too hot, and a snapping turtle had nested in the sand," Ponce said. "In the beginning I wanted to see what the turtles like and by the end of the summer I realized that it has a lot to do with moisture and temperature."
Ponce said turtles like to nest in places that are open, and are not too wet and not too dry.
"I have another field season with the nesting project next summer, and there are going to be several modifications for next year," Ponce said. "The next thing to look for is to see where they go and the best places to put the structures."
Ponce said she plans on tracking the wood turtles with radio transmitters, collecting them next summer, and putting them in an enclosed nesting habitat structure, instead of a giving the turtles a choice of going in and out of the structures. In addition, she said there are many different decisions that can be made, such as mixing the different substrates for different nesting habitats.
Ponce and others at the Great Swamp plan to continue their project with new innovations next summer, but in the meantime they have broken a 10-year long absence of a species in the refuge.

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« Antwoord #17 Gepost op: 11 Oktober 2008, 21:15:05 »

SALEM NEWS (Massachusetts) 18 September 06 Slow and steady:Scientists and locals work together to track, save turtles (Julie Kirkwood)
Dustin Koocher, 6, pressed his hand into the deep grass inside a wire cage at the edge of a busy athletic field in Georgetown. He touched the ground blindly in the center and then in each corner, hoping his fingers would fall upon a baby reptile.
"If you feel something like a rock, you pull it out and see if it's a turtle," he said.
Dustin's hand found no rocks or turtles here, so he and his brother Travis, 9, lugged their gear to the next wire-covered nest to have a look.
A woman noticed the boys and walked over to ask their mother, Diane Koocher of Newburyport, what they were looking for. Koocher explained that they were helping with turtle conservation by measuring, weighing and then releasing baby turtles.
"I'm here for the soccer game," the woman said, "but I think that's very admirable."
Unbeknownst to many people, many of the oldest and most comfortable residents of Georgetown and Groveland are these gentle, shelled creatures. The area, sometimes called Turtle Land, supports the second largest population of rare Blanding's turtles in Massachusetts, as well as many painted, snapping and spotted turtles.
Turtle biologists have known about this spot for years, but it is only recently that they've been sharing the secret with the public. Dozens of people came to a turtle picnic this summer at one of the prime turtle nesting grounds in Georgetown, many of whom were learning about the turtles for the first time.
"My children played soccer here and I still never heard anything about this," said Donna Spaulding of Georgetown. She brought her granddaughter, 4-year-old Juliana, to the picnic because the girl likes turtles.
"It tickles," Juliana said, holding a baby Blanding's turtle in her palm. "He has claws."
The risk of sharing this treasure with the public is that people will destroy the nests or try to catch the turtles for illegal trade, said turtle biologist Mark Grgurovic, who discovered this nesting site when he was working on a master's degree at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
The potential benefit, though, is recruiting a citizen science team to make large-scale research and conservation possible, and also winning the support of the public for protecting turtle habitat.
The Koocher family is on a schedule with several other volunteers to check turtle nests in August and September, the season when baby turtles hatch. Typically, the babies would hatch and wander off on their own, but these nests are protected with wire so predators won't destroy them. The babies hatch inside the wire cages and need to be released by people. This gives scientists a chance to measure and weigh each baby and keep track of how many survive.
The Koochers are on duty every Wednesday evening this season, even in the rain, Diane Koocher said. It takes them about two hours to feel around in every cage, measure the babies and release them on the bank of a nearby river.
"Right when we let them go, they know how to swim instantly," Dustin said. "They're weird."
Susan Speak, an Ipswich teacher, has been coordinating these volunteer efforts for the past three years. She trains the "citizen scientists," as she calls them, and also spends hours in the field herself tracking the turtles.
The opportunities for citizen scientists to get involved in turtle research are growing, as turtle scientists awaken to the benefits of such programs. Massachusetts and New Hampshire both invite ordinary people to fill out forms whenever they spot a turtle, and turtle scientists and conservationists launched the Turtle Atlas of New England this past spring, a Web site where anybody can log their turtle sightings, even of dead turtles on the road.
Already one citizen entry in the atlas has tipped the scientists off to a Blanding's turtle in a part of Massachusetts where nobody knew the species lived. The atlas collected about 700 entries in its first year.
"What we're trying to do is get fundamental data in ways that would be impossible if we only had a few people," said Chuck Landrey, cofounder of the atlas and director of the Connecticut-based Turtle Conservation Project.
It's a tough time to be a turtle, the scientists say. For tens of thousands of years, turtles lived in the North of Boston area. Turtles can live to be 100 years old, if predators or traffic don't kill them prematurely. Only recently - within the lifetimes of some of today's turtles - have there been roads crisscrossing their territory and houses encroaching on their habitat. There is some evidence that their numbers are declining.
Preservation efforts are moving ahead full force throughout New England, though.
Conservationists say preserving turtle habitat does more than protect turtles. The Blanding's turtles North of Boston, for example, need vernal pools for food in the spring, warm sandy soil for laying their eggs and shady forest habitat to keep cool in the summer. If an area supports a population of Blanding's turtles, it probably also supports rare birds and butterflies, said Chris Bowe, a biologist who breeds endangered turtles at a sanctuary in North Andover.
"If you go into these beautiful areas you're going to see a whole network of these rare things," he said.
This region is notable not only for its rare turtles, but also for the turtle experts with ties here. Bowe is the only person in Massachusetts licensed to breed endangered turtles. Grgurovic, who is one of the leading Blanding's turtle experts in the nation, grew up in North Andover, and Mike Jones, one of the leading experts on the rare wood turtle, is from Andover.
"It's actually very exciting because there's such a large turtle community, it's growing and we live in such a special area," Bowe said.
The opportunity for more people to get involved in turtles is growing, Landrey said.
"This is a way that people can directly make a difference," he said. "They're helping do science. It's a way of participating other than just writing a check."
For the Koocher brothers, it's also an exciting way to spend a Wednesday evening.
"They're so cool," Travis said. "We don't want them all to be extinct."
Turtle crossing
One of the biggest threats to turtles is traffic. Blanding's 339, a turtle rescued this summer by volunteers, is just one example of a turtle injured by a passing car.
You can help protect turtles by driving carefully through turtle neighborhoods during their peak migration season, in May and June. If you see a turtle in the road, you can help it cross. Just follow these guidelines.
- Do not step into the road until you are sure it is safe. Never put yourself in danger to help a turtle cross the street.
- Cross the turtle in the direction it was heading, even if it was heading away from water or other good turtle habitat. The turtle knows where it's going. If you put it on the wrong side of the street it will walk right back into traffic again.
- Do not take the turtle to another location that you think is a better habitat. It will be totally disoriented. Chances are this turtle has lived in the same area for years if not decades, and crossed this road many times before.
- Do not try to help a snapping turtle across the road. You may get hurt. Do not pick up a snapping turtle by its tail because this can injure its spinal cord.
- If the turtle you see is a rare species, report the sighting to the Massachusetts Natural Heritage Endangered Species Program or the New Hamsphire Fish and Game Department.
Source: the Northeast Massachusetts Native Turtle Network
Become a "citizen scientist"
Scientists are recruiting volunteers from all over New England to look out for rare turtles and report what they see. Here are some ways to get involved:
Northeast Massachusetts Native Turtle Network, Three researchers are recruiting volunteers to help study and protect several species of turtles North of Boston. In the spring, the volunteers watch the female turtles make their nests and then protect the nests from predators. In the fall they check the nests for hatchlings and release them into the wild. The Web site has dozens of turtle photos to help with identification.
Turtle Atlas of New England, Amateurs are encouraged to enter their turtle sightings to contribute to the atlas, run by the Turtle Conservation Project and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The site includes turtle watching tips and links to state-specific resources.
New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, .us/Wildlife/Nongame/RAARP/reporting_NH_herps.htm" target="_blank"> The state is asking citizens to report sightings of turtles, as well as salamanders, snakes, frogs and toads. It's best if you can get a photograph to document the siting, but all observations are welcome. Forms are available on the Web site.
Natural Heritage Endangered Species Program, Massachusetts is keeping track of its turtles, too. This Web site gives general information about the state's turtles. To report a sighting, get a form at
The saga of Blanding's 339
On the night of June 19, Ipswich teacher and turtle scientist Susan Speak called the Georgetown Police because an all-terrain vehicle came within 3 feet of a rare Blanding's turtle looking for a spot to lay her eggs.
Officer Dennis Sullivan, on his way to the scene, noticed another Blanding's turtle in the road nearby that had been hit. As Speak rounded the bend, she recognized the turtle through binoculars by the notches on her shell. It was Blanding's 339, one of the first Blanding's turtles she marked years ago, and a turtle she considered a friend. There are only 51 known adult Blanding's turtles in this population.
"It was absolutely heartbreaking to see her so severely injured," Speak wrote in her online turtle diary. The turtle's shell was cracked and she had lost a lot of blood.
This turtle had special meaning for rehabilitator Chris Bowe of North Andover, as well. She was the first Blanding's turtle he ever saw nest. He suggested putting her in a dark container until she could get help.
Blanding's expert Mark Grgurovic called veterinarians and duct-taped her top shell.
The turtle survived the first few days and moved to Bowe's sanctuary for rehabilitation. More than two months later, she was able to poke her head out of her shell and hold still for the children at the turtle picnic in Georgetown. She's not fully recovered, though.
Bowe has been giving her antibiotics and fluids and keeping her warm. She has lost a lot of weight and would probably drown if she was released to the wild right now because her legs are uncoordinated.
He sent her to New Hampshire for more intense rehabilitation, including possible surgery to remove impacted eggs. She will also be force-fed and given more antibiotics to clear up her infections. She may also have spinal cord injuries.
Still, Bowe is hopeful that the turtle will survive. If all goes well she could be released to the wild in another year.
If Officer Sullivan hadn't found her when he did, Speak said, she probably would have been hit by another vehicle and killed.

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« Antwoord #18 Gepost op: 11 Oktober 2008, 21:17:04 »

DOVER COMMUNITY NEWS (New Hampshire) 28 July 06 Turtle neighbors take you back to long ago era (Susan Story Galt)
I've seen a lot more turtles this summer than I usually do. Even in July, which is later than the normal June nesting season, female turtles are moving around the are, searching for places to lay their eggs. And on sunny days, local ponds all seem to have turtles sitting on rocks, enjoying the sun. Sadly, none of these turtles I'm seeing have been in my own backyard, where I could enjoy watching them for a while. However, I know that a lot of people do have the backyard habitat to support turtles and I want you folks to know I envy you!
Depending on how you count, there are six or seven turtles found in New Hampshire. You are less likely to see four of them: Spotted, Common Musk, Blanding's, and Wood. Any Eastern Box Turtle you find now probably is not a native, but a released pet, although they used to be natives. The most commonly seen are the Eastern Painted Turtle and the Snapping Turtle.
The Painted Turtle, the most widespread turtle in the state and in all of North America, is the one you see sitting on a rock in the middle of a pond, basking in the sun. It has yellow stripes on its face, like the Common Musk Turtle, but the red markings around the edge of its shell identify it as a Painted Turtle. The back shell plates sit in straight rows on the shell. This turtle grows to between 4 and 10 inches long. Painted Turtles lay their eggs in June in clutches that usually include fewer than 10 eggs. These will hatch in September. The little hatchlings often overwinter in the nest. In the spring, they will leave the nest to head for the nearest body of water.
The Snapping Turtle is New Hampshire's largest turtle, growing to between 8 and 18 inches long. It is black all over, with no bright colors on its head or neck. You will also recognize it from its long, spiny tail. It has a powerful jaw and long neck, so you need to be careful if you need to handle it. The male Snapper grows much larger than the females, unlike most other reptiles, where the reverse is true. Snappers are mostly aquatic; they come on land only to lay their eggs or to travel to another body of water. They do not bask in the sun like Painted Turtles do. The female Snapper tends to use the same nest site year after year, laying a clutch of 20 to 30 eggs in June or July. (These are the turtles you see crossing roads, loyally trying to return to their usual nest site.) The eggs hatch any time from late August to early October. They, too, will often overwinter in the nest, or they may go look for water right away.
Both Snapping Turtles and Painted Turtles, along with all of the other turtles found in New Hampshire except the Wood Turtle, produce male or female young depending on the temperature around the egg at a certain crucial time in its development.
Females develop in the warmest and coolest areas, males in the temperature area in the middle. The sex of eggs of the Wood Turtle is determined genetically.
New Hampshire's turtles, like those in all northern states, take a longer time to grow than those in warmer climes because they need to hibernate in the winter. Some take as long as 20 years to reach reproductive maturity.
There are many threats to turtle populations in the state as development increases. Because turtles need water to live in and drier, upland areas for nesting, there is increasing risk to their population as small bodies of water and vernal pools are drained and filled, and larger land areas are paved or built upon. One study in Maine found some female turtles traveling a half mile to find nesting sites. Of course, this often includes crossing roads and open, unprotected fields.
If you have turtles in your pond, or have seen a female lay eggs in a nest next to your driveway (a favorite place for snappers) or in the mulch in your flower garden (another favorite place), you are one of the lucky people. You have a front row seat to observe beings that have changed very little since dinosaurs roamed the earth. Treasure and protect the shelled neighbors who live outside your backyard window to prehistoric sights.

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« Antwoord #19 Gepost op: 11 Oktober 2008, 21:18:10 »

METROWEST DAILY NEWS (Boston, Massachusetts) 13 June 06 Turtle season crawls across region (Danielle Ameden)
Seasonal commuters are jamming up area roads with their slow pace and stubborn nature.
Officials are calling for patience.
Ashland police officers handled one such case yesterday.
"There was a large turtle in the road," said Lt. Scott Rohmer, whose department responded to the scene.
According to Ashland’s animal control officer, Cheryl Rudolph, the turtle was blocking traffic on lower Cedar Street for 10 minutes, but drivers stopped and the turtle was able to cross the street unharmed.
"It’s not unusual to have to deal with this," said Rohmer, adding that the department has responded to several similar situations of snapping turtles blocking or obstructing local roadways.
Biologist Marion Larson with the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife said June is "turtle month," when snapping, spotted, and painted varieties of the aquatic reptiles venture out of their wetland habitats to mate and lay eggs. Often, they end up traversing high-traffic areas, posing a danger to drivers and pedestrians.
Local police and wildlife authorities say the plodding creatures are known to cross roads while on their mission to lay their eggs.
"It’s such a common phenomenon for us," said Larson of MassWildlife in Westborough. "For many people, ’Wow,’ this is the first time they’ve seen anything like this. We often get calls from people saying, ’What do we do?’"
"We’ve been getting calls on them," said Keith Tosi, Natick animal control officer. "It’s that time of year."
Tosi, a 13-year veteran of the department, said residents call in saying they’ve spotted turtles digging around in their yards and mulch beds. "We just explain to the folks that it’s normal," he said.
"Usually (the turtles) do their thing and they’re off and running again."
Larson said the most help pedestrians or motorists can be is to move the turtle from danger’s way, without deterring it.
"If they aren’t hurt, it would be very nice if people slowed up," said Robin Shearer, a receptionist at Tufts Wildlife Clinic in North Grafton.
Shearer suggested pedestrians or motorists help turtles cross roads with a shovel or piece of cardboard.
Larson said turtles can be picked up from the back end of their shell, or pushed gently along. Many people have good intentions of moving the turtle out of harm’s way, she said, but attempting to redirect or relocate a turtle can actually put it in more danger.
"The best thing to do is to help it across the road or whatever dangerous spot," she said.
Shearer agreed, saying to keep the turtle heading in the direction in which it was traveling. "They’re pre-programmed and very stubborn. They will eventually just cross to where they’re going, putting themselves at risk again."
Local authorities advise people to exercise caution when handling the turtles.
"Even though they seem pretty listless, they can snap," Shearer said.
"They have such a hooked, hooked mouth," Larson said. "It’s really important not to mess with the front end of a snapping turtle at all."
"They just want to be left alone," Tosi said.
According to Larson, mother turtles find ideal nesting conditions in sandboxes, vegetable and flower gardens, and mulch piles where their eggs can be buried and protected from the elements during their 60- to 90-day incubation period. The baby turtles hatch on their own and instinctively know where to find food, water and shelter.
Since the start of turtle season at the end of May, two snapping turtles have been rescued by a team of veterinarians at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in North Grafton, Shearer said.
The turtles, one from North Grafton and the other from Concord, were found with shell and jaw trauma. Shearer anticipates many more injured turtles.
According to 2005 season statistics, the clinic saw 31 snappers, 40 painted turtles, four spotted, one wood, and three Blandings.
"We see a lot of cracked shells and head injuries," Shearer said, adding that many turtles at the clinic have more serious injuries.
"Depending on the severity of the fractures, (veterinarians) do have a lot of success in treating them, sealing them over and getting them back to the wild," she said.
A number of turtles with severe shell cracks and internal injuries are put to sleep, although a female turtle’s eggs are able to be harvested and incubated at the clinic.

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« Antwoord #20 Gepost op: 11 Oktober 2008, 21:19:09 »

MORNING SENTINEL (Waterville, Maine) 03 June 06 Trouble for turtles (Dave Sherwood)
Rob Johnston and Janika Eckert saw something alongside the Garland Road in Winslow last year they'll never forget.
A large snapping turtle had been struck by a vehicle. Its shell was cracked, and it was clearly dead.
Most alarmingly, it was far enough off the road that Johnston is convinced the driver would have had to swerve off the pavement to hit it.
Just the thought made the husband and wife cringe.
Intentional or not, automobiles are threatening the very existence of turtles in Maine.
"Road mortality is probably the greatest threat to the survival of turtles in Maine," said Philip DeMaynadier, endangered species specialist for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
The turtle Johnston and Eckert found measured 13 inches across its back, and may have been 50 years old, or more.
Two weeks later Eckert, while on a bike ride in the neighborhood, noticed two small humps in the gravel beside the spot where they had found the turtle.
"We realized she probably had a chance to lay eggs before she died," she said.
For the next three months, Eckert and Johnston, who live in Albion, would revisit the site, looking for any sign of hatchlings or activity.
One day in early fall, she noticed two small holes in the gravel humps -- likely dug out by the baby turtles as they made their escape into a nearby stream.
"It was really a life-changing event for both of us," said Eckert.
There are seven species of turtles in Maine. All but two -- the common snapping turtle and the the painted turtle -- are threatened. The others -- Blandings, spotted, Eastern box, wood, and common musk, are rare, and largely limited to southern Maine.
Loss of habitat and encounters with vehicles are the primary threats to their survival, according to DeMaynadier.
In 2002, concern for turtles led department biologists to close the commercial harvest of snapping turtles in the face of an almost insatiable demand for turtle meat in southeast Asia.
"We didn't have good population numbers on the species, and so we elected to take the conservative route," said DeMaynadier.
Overall, he said, snapping turtles are better off than most other species of turtles. Biologists consider them "habitat generalists," making use of ponds, marshes, bogs, slow-moving streams and rivers, and man-made impoundments. They also tend to wander less than other turtles, instead choosing a single body of water to spend most of their lives.
But early to mid-June is peak egg-laying season for female snapping turtles, that leave the water and wander nearby woods to look for nesting sites as soon as the weather warms in early summer.
"They're hardwired. This is something they've been doing for millions of years. They go out looking for nesting sites, and sometimes that takes them across roads," he said.
To make matters worse, female turtles often seek out roads for nesting.
"Road shoulders have loose, gravelly soil, and are usually out in the open, without a forest canopy. That really defines the ideal nesting site for a snapping turtle," said DeMaynadier.
It's a fundamental flaw in a battle plan that was developed millions of years ago by turtles, long before the invention of the automobile.
"In many cases, these turtles are crossing roads on migratory paths they had been taking long before these roads even existed," DeMaynadier said. The occasional road kill is standard for almost any species of bird or animal in Maine, but DeMaynadier said when it comes to snapping turtles, every one counts.
Turtles often live 50 years or more, and don't reach sexual maturity until they are almost 20 years old. They lay between 20 and 40 eggs a year, and often, entire clutches are destroyed or eaten by dogs, raccoons, fox, coyote, skunks and insects.
"Their whole strategy is to breed every year and replace themselves with just one or two successful hatchlings in their entire lifespan," said DeMaynadier. That often means that just one or two of more than 1,000 turtle eggs will survive over the creature's lifespan.
Thanks to an impenetrable shell, snapping turtles have no natural predators, so their survival strategy has remained unchanged over millions of years -- until now.
"What short circuits their whole evolutionary strategy is the new predator against which the shell is of no use -- car tires," DeMaynadier.
This year, Johnston and Eckert had another turtle experience. This one, though, had a happy ending. Last week, Johnston went out for a long-distance bike ride from his home in Albion. His route took him over the new Route 3 bridge in Augusta.
When he got to the west side of the bridge, he noticed a big, female snapping turtle -- larger than the one he'd seen last year -- motionless at the base of a 20-foot manmade gravel embankment beside the road.
Twenty-five miles from home and on a bike, he had no choice but to leave the snapper there, in the face of oncoming traffic and beside the insurmountable cliff.
When Johnston returned home, he told his wife about the turtle. They returned that night to find it in nearly the same spot. They brought it to Avian Wildlife Haven, a rehabilitation center in Freedom.
Owner Marc Payne received the turtle, placed it in a tub of water, and that week, dropped it off in Bangor, in a safe location where it would be free to migrate and lay eggs without fear of cars.
"It's not always the best solution, but in this case that turtle would have been playing Russian roulette every time it went to cross that new road. It'd probably been taking that route for years, and probably would have kept trying," he said.
Payne sees 20 or so turtles a year at the center. He said the biggest problem snapping turtles face is a lack of understanding among humans. He's seen snapping turtles stabbed by fearful fishermen, shells cut by lawnmowers. He'd also heard horror stories of people purposely running them over in cars.
According to DeMaynadier, snapping turtles are mostly harmless. They are omnivores, meaning they eat both meat and vegetable matter, but studies show that most of their diet consists of grasses. They're also docile, particularly in water, said Payne, who's worked with them for most of his career.
"They snap out of water only because it's the only defense they have," he said.
In all other respects, they are creatures as native to Maine as brook trout and chickadees.
"They're a primitive animal that has just become victim of our modern influence on their habitat. To me, they're a metaphor, an example of nature being disregarded. But they are really a magnificent creature," said Johnston.
Turtle Facts
Snapping turtles are reptiles, meaning they draw warmth from their surrounding environment.
Snapping turtles need fixed bodies of water to survive, but can live without water for 2 weeks.
The sex of hatchling snapping turtles is determined by the temperature of the soil in which they are incubated. Hotter temperatures mean more females, cooler temperatures lead to more males.
Snapping turtle meat is considered a delicacy in China and other Asian countries.
The commercial harvest of snapping turtles ended in 2002 in Maine, but snapping turtles may still be harvested for personal use.
Turtles are scavengers, and bottom feeders, and biologists caution that they accumulate heavy metals and toxins in their organs and fat.
Some scientists estimate that it takes 3,000 to 6,000 eggs over a lifetime for a turtle to replace itself
Turtle Crossing Tips
Be on the lookout when driving for snapping turtles crossing roads in low, wet spots from dawn to noon, then again in the evening.
If you see a snapping turtle crossing the road and wish to help, always herd it in the direction it is traveling, never turn it back. They always have a destination in mind.
If you need to move a snapping turtle quickly, pick it up by the back of the carapace, holding the head away from you. You may also throw a towel over its head while handling for safety.
Never hold a snapping turtle by the tail.
If you find an injured snapping turtle along the road, call the Avian Wildlife Haven at 382-6761 or see the web at:www.avian

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« Antwoord #21 Gepost op: 11 Oktober 2008, 21:20:22 »

BERKSHIRE EAGLE (Massachusetts) 30 March 06 They went tat-a-way! Playing tag with turtles (Christopher Marcisz)
Williamstown: The group of students found their target — a seven-inch wood turtle named "Frida" — still deeply burrowed in the muck under a riverbank, evidently still enjoying her long winter's hibernation. She didn't seem to care about the 60-degree weather outside that suggested spring may have finally arrived.
Frida, along with a male nicknamed "Lefty," is part of a pilot study to learn more about the turtles that began when they were found and tagged last spring. This species is labeled as one of "special concern" in Massachusetts.
The effort is being led by Drew Jones, manager of the Hopkins Memorial Forest, which is run by the Williams College Center for Environmental Studies. Yesterday, he led a group of students from Elena Traister's environmental studies class at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts to track the creatures.
Before setting off along the Hoosic River, Jones explained that the effort was intended to help understand life along the river.
"We're interested in conserving the watershed, and one component of that is knowing about the biodiversity there," he said.
The group set off to find the transmitting turtles, armed with nets and plastic buckets with clear plastic bottoms to look into the river, and wearing thigh-high waders.
Jones held a radio receiver that looked like an old television antenna that was attached to a receiver. Through the static he could hear the beeps, coming at regular two-second intervals.
The wood turtle, known formally as Clemmys insculpta, is listed as being of "special concern" by the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. While not as severe as an "endangered" or "threatened" listing, it means the species has "suffered a decline that could threaten the species if allowed to continue unchecked" or occurs "in such small numbers or with such restricted distributions or specialized habitat requirements that they could easily become threatened within Massachusetts."
Jones described how the turtles' habitats are fragmented, and how they are "dependent on a specific habitat type" that is "sensitive to disturbance." He said there are not many wood turtles in the area, and that in the course of the study he has only seen four so far.
Jones said he catches up with the turtles about three times a week during their active season, recording where they travel, how long they stay there and what the air and water temperatures are like. They can travel between 100 and 200 yards a day.
For these reasons, Traister said it makes them "an interesting case study" for the class, which introduces students to environmental issues.
After a few stops to listen to the distant and faint beeps, they began to close in on the female. They narrowed it down to a bank, where the group gathered around and began searching the water and along the banks.
Jones finally pulled Frida — who was named after Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, because she was found and tagged on Cinco de Mayo last year — out of her burrow beneath the 44-degree water. The roughly 25-year-old turtle was a bit shy about sticking her head outside her shell, where the quarter-sized transmitter with a long black wire attached was glued.
Traister's class has other fieldwork planned for the rest of the semester. Along with students from Williams College and Berkshire Community College, they will be working to document the movement of salamanders in and out of vernal pools in Williamstown next month. They will also help the Hoosic River Watershed Association assess water quality in streams leading to the Hoosic.

Berichten: 2797

« Antwoord #22 Gepost op: 11 Oktober 2008, 21:21:27 »

STRAIGHT GOODS (Golden Lake, Ontario) 22 March 06 The voice of the turtle - Spring brings turtles out of hibernation, to lay eggs above the waterline. (Ole Hendrickson)
One Saturday last spring my partner and I were sitting under the cedars at the cottage, looking out over the Ottawa River. She spotted an odd-looking head protruding from the water, moving steadily past our rocky beach. "I think it's a turtle," she said.
At the start of a trip into town the next day we saw a female snapping turtle laying eggs in a sandy area alongside the cottage road, maybe 50 meters from the water. On Monday I was working alone at the cottage and I saw her again. She was stuck on our deck at the top of the steps leading down to the beach, unable to move forward or retreat.
Messing around with snapping turtles is generally not recommended. According to the website of the Kawartha Lakes Turtle Watch, they can rise up on their legs, rock back and forth, hiss with their mouths wide open, and lunge forward and snap with their powerful jaws.
However, this particular female seemed pretty harmless after her egg-laying expedition. I picked her up, carried her to the base of the steps, and watched her slow progress back to the river. Later that year I found a young turtle following in its mother's footsteps.
Winter survival is even more remarkable than turtle reproduction. Imagine spending months submerged in a frozen lake, half buried in the mud. Like frogs, turtles can get oxygen directly from the water. Unlike frogs, most of the turtle's body is covered by its hard, impermeable shell. Turtles breathe underwater through special patches, with lots of blood vessels, on their throats and near the base of their tails. They also slow their heart rate down to around one beat every ten minutes. A turtle's sleep is far deeper than any mammal's.
On rare occasions turtles wake up and swim under the ice in winter. Painted turtles sometimes emerge from hibernation before all the ice is gone in spring.
For a male turtle, hibernation isn't just about coping with long, cold winters. If it is prevented from hibernating — for example, kept indoors as a pet — it loses its ability to father offspring. Removing a turtle from the wild is a cruel act.
Although snapping and painted turtles are common here, the Ottawa River watershed is noteworthy for its large number of nationally-listed turtle species at risk. The spotted turtle is nationally endangered. Blanding's, spiny softshell, stinkpot, northern map, and wood turtles are also all at risk of extinction and have significant populations in the watershed.
The main threat to turtles is habitat loss. If you have waterfront property, maintaining or restoring natural shoreline vegetation is an excellent way to provide habitat for feeding and basking, and access to egg-laying areas. Other harmful habitat changes include development of upland nesting sites (sandy areas near water), use of herbicides, wetland drainage, river channelization and water impoundment.
All turtles lay eggs on the land, and some species (eg, wood turtles and spotted turtles) spend considerable amounts of time in moist forests. This, unfortunately, makes them vulnerable to illegal collecting for the pet trade, contributing to their decline.
Road kill is a significant cause of death for many turtle species. Adult females, which are particularly important for turtle survival, often choose roadsides for nesting. Here they can fall victim to vehicle traffic. Canada's leading turtle expert, Dr. Ron Brooks of the University of Guelph, warns that even 1-2 percent additional adult mortality from road kill can hasten extinction. Where local naturalists' clubs have put up turtle crossing signs, please drive with caution, especially in spring.
Aboriginal peoples recognize turtles as one of our most remarkable cousins. For many, turtles symbolize the world itself and are worthy of great respect and care.
Dr Ole Hendrickson is an ecologist and a founding member of the Ottawa River Institute, a non-profit, charitable organization based in Pembroke ON Canada. The ORI is aimed at fostering sustainable communities and ecological integrity in the Ottawa Valley and Ottawa River Watershed. For more information please visit the ORI website.

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« Antwoord #23 Gepost op: 7 Juli 2009, 21:43:19 »

Bedankt Chrisleone

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« Antwoord #24 Gepost op: 15 Januari 2012, 00:41:11 »

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