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MA Press: Injured turtle given a 2nd cha

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Posted by: W von Papinešu at Mon Jun 11 21:18:11 2007  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by W von Papinešu ]  

EAGLE-TRIBUNE (N Andover, Massachusetts) 11 June 07 Injured turtle given a second chance (Suzanne Laurent)
Windham: An injured painted turtle rescued from the roadside was given an emotional send-off yesterday morning by the mother and young son who found her clinging to life a year ago.
Inge Blythe of Salem and her son Lukas, now 8, were heading home after a play date in Griffin Park on Range Road when Blythe spotted the turtle on the side of the road.
"I love turtles and always look out for them this time of year," Blythe said. "This one had been hit by a car and her shell was cracked open. She was bleeding, but still alive."
Blythe gently placed the injured turtle, which was never named, on a plastic bag on the seat of her car and called her husband Paul.
"He called our vet who put him in touch with Chris Bogard, a wildlife rehabilitator in Epping," Blythe said.
"As soon as I pulled into our driveway, Paul had her on the phone and we agreed to meet at Exit 5 (off Interstate 93.)"
Bogard specializes in turtle rehabilitation and is licensed with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. She works with one of the country's leading turtle experts Dr. Charlie Innis, an associate veterinarian at the New England Aquarium.
"I've been taking care of strictly turtles for seven years," Bogard said. "Last year, I had 52 injured ones brought to me."
One of them was the turtle found by Blythe and one year later, the turtle's shell has healed. She was ready to return to her habitat.
Blythe and Lukas met Bogard on Range Road yesterday morning and looked for the wetlands near the place where the turtle was found.
Turtles have what Bogard calls "nest site fidelity," meaning that they have to return to the same place to lay eggs every year. If the turtles don't return, they may refuse to lay their eggs, which can lead to infections that kill the animal.
"It's female turtles that you see crossing roads," Bogard explained. "They are looking for a nesting site and once they lay their clutch of eggs, they'll return to a body of water where they live."
The painted turtle that Blythe found had eggs inside of her when she was hit last year. Bogard incubated the eggs, but they never hatched.
Bogard said the turtle has to be at least 10 years old since that is the age of maturity for painted turtles when they start producing eggs.
Yesterday, Blythe, Bogard and Lukas patiently watched as the mended turtle tried to become accustomed to the wild again. The turtles, which can live between 40 and 100, usually lay a clutch of six or seven eggs a year during their lifetime. But because of predators that eat the eggs and young, such as raccoons, only two or three will survive.
She poked her head out of her shell, then her legs, and began inching toward the water.
Blythe's eyes welled up and she said to her son, "I told you I'd cry."
Bogard was equally emotional.
"Every time I do this, I feel like I've won a battle," Bogard said.
However, the battle may not be over yet.
As the turtle made its 45-minute journey to the water, Blythe noticed electrical wires coming up out of the ground.
Then, the turtle encountered a plastic construction barrier. A pink wetland marker was wrapped around a tree.
"Oh no," Blythe said. "They're not going to build here, are they?"
Further investigation of the site pointed to this possibility.
Bogard felt helpless.
"I have to leave her (the turtle) here," she said. "This is her home."
Bogard pointed out that when sites near wetlands are developed, enough of a buffer should be maintained for wildlife to remain in their habitat.
"The ideal nesting grounds are on the wrong side of this barrier," she said.
For Blythe, the return of the painted turtle took on a bittersweet ending.
Injured turtle given a second chance


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