by Area Forester Lisa Deaton
Why do turtles cross the road?
The answer turns out to be the same as the famous chicken riddle: to get to the other side. The US Fish and Wildlife Service provides information on how to safely assist turtles in the direction they are traveling here: https://medium.com/usfws/turtles-are-crossing-the-road-96dafc2b3515 .
Driving with your full attention on the road in front of you is always a good way to avoid hitting turtles, deer, rabbits, wild turkey, squirrels and other wildlife. If you happen to hit a vulture that has just been feeding on carrion, you could end up with a windshield covered in buzzard barf. A woman once told me that her daughter’s car had been hit by a deer. The deer probably felt that it was the other way around.
Summertime is a busy time for turtles, and the Virginia Herpetological Society provides a website that can help you identify them. Their website also offers a Box Turtle Reporting Form for entering Eastern box turtle (Terrapene Carolina Carolina) sitings.
In addition to seeing lots of “Sliders” sunning themselves on logs in ponds, I have been running into box turtles every time I walk through the woods lately.
They vary in coloring and markings, but they all have that classic high-domed shell. Box turtles are territorial; the effects of on box turtle populations from forest fragmentation and roadways raises concerns. It is important to leave them where you find them, because there is no place like home, especially for wildlife.
Perhaps it is fitting to end with another riddle. You know that you are a forester when…
you have ticks crawling up your bedroom walls. I blame this one on our dog.