Friday, June 02, 2006

Turtle Rescue. Score: 1-1

Last night as I was driving home from work and almost at Roundtop, I crested the last hill and saw a turtle in the road. I should have a bumper sticker, “I brake for turtles” because I always do. So I stopped the car in the middle of the road, turned on my flashers and got out. A young snapping turtle, about 6 inches long, was in the middle of the lane.

So this is a problem. A snapping turtle, even a small one, isn’t something I really want to pick up. For a moment I try to remember if picking one up by the tail is the right way to pick it up or exactly the wrong thing. I have a vision of driving myself to the emergency room to remove a turtle from my hand or finger and decide I don’t have time in my evening’s agenda for such an event. So, in the end, since I can’t remember about the tail thing, I decide against the possibility of a wrong guess. I decide the best course of action is to move it with a stick.

Do you think I could find a freakin’ stick?!? The forest is on both sides of the road, I’m parked in the middle of the road with my flashers on. Fortunately, no cars came by. This is yet another joy of living off the beaten path. But one could come by at any moment. So I’m hunting for a stick in the middle of a forest that apparently has no sticks. Eventually I find this pathetic little stick that’s about 16” long, no more than half an inch thick and has a large curve in it starting about halfway down. It’s obviously not ideal, but it’s the only thing I have.

So now I approach the turtle, half expecting the stick to bend/break when it encounters the snapping turtle. I try to push the turtle off the road. The stick doesn’t break, but the turtle is only pushed an inch or so, and he’s not amused. He snaps and whirls around with a kind of a little hop. By pushing him in the same spot, he snaps and whirls in the same way, so I manage to move him a few inches at a time towards the edge of the road. Eventually, this strategy works. The turtle is in the grass at the edge of the road, and I haven’t been bitten. So I get in the car and head to the cabin.

Sadly, this effort was for naught. This morning as I was driving to work, I saw the turtle, flattened, in the road, perhaps 50 yards further from where I got him off the road.
But even this story has a happier ending. A few miles further down the road, just before a dangerous intersection, I see another turtle in the road. This one is a box turtle, and I am able to rescue it without a stick and find a fairly suitable spot for it where it’s not likely to wander into the road again. And still, no cars came by.


ChicagoLady said...

I live in the suburbs of Chicago and saw a turtle in the middle of a busy two lane road. I turned around, parked on the shoulder, waited till there was a break in the traffic, grabbed the turtle by the shell and carried to safety. I don't know much about turtles, but I knew this one would get flattened if I didn't do something. Fortunately, it just went into the shell while I carried it.

And by the way, I really enjoy reading your blog!

Carolyn H said...

Ah, another turtle rescuer! What is it about these things when they suddenly decide to take to the roads??

Carolyn H.