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CT Press: Sad death of the Snapper

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Posted by: W von Papinešu at Mon Sep 13 11:20:30 2010  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by W von Papinešu ]  
   

REDDING PILOT (Connecticut) 09 September 10 The sad death of the Topstone turtle (Scott Gerschwer )
The Topstone Park snapping turtle was found dead last week and has been floating near the waterfall for these last few days of summer, a sad ending on several levels.
For one thing, the turtle was an enjoyable hobgoblin for the kids who swim in the lake. They used to stand atop the floating dock looking out anxiously to see if the turtle was nearby and it added an element of chills to an otherwise placid swimming experience. The turtle never harmed anyone, as far as I know, and would swim away if one approached it in a kayak or canoe.
What it provided for the kids was a lesson that this is no biologically bereft swimming pool, dosed with chorine and devoid of life. The turtle was the biggest, baddest biological in a pond that also offered youngsters the pleasure of capturing newts and frogs and the occasional crayfish for a few minutes closer inspection and then released. The turtle was the boogyman in a dreamy summer of youth, the only potentially dangerous denizen of the pond - except for a snake that sometimes crossed through the swimming area on his or her way to wherever snakes go.
And that lesson - that we are not alone - is also painfully present in the death of the turtle. Because upon closer inspection, the turtle appears to have gotten caught in some fishing line, and I've heard that a fishhook was seen in one of its fins. It's very possible that the turtle was tangled in a line and drowned, the sad flip side reminder that we are not alone and that the peace between us and the animals that share this town is a fragile one, with the animals generally getting the worst of it.
I've picked up an owl that was run over at night, I've mourned over a river otter that was hit by a car near the Chestnut Woods swamp, I've helped frogs and turtles get safely across the road and I've waited somewhat patiently for a snake to cross. And when people intervene in all this natural splendor: For example, someone callously dumped a domestic goose in the pond in front of my house - he met his end when the pond froze over one night; coyote tracks were visible in the snow the next morning - it never seems to end well for the animal.
I think the children who summer at Topstone Park will miss the turtle. He had a lot of character, was big and burly and lent the place some excitement. And he and I go way back. When I moved here 14 years ago I surveyed the lake with a mask and snorkel, checking out the submerged stumps and holes. In the murky water I came across that turtle-shell pattern and, curious, moved closer in to get a better look. When I came face to face with his wise old eyes I don't know who moved faster in opposite directions. And I'm far from blameless here: As a novice fisherman I lost plenty of lures to submerged logs in Topstone. I even lost a few in standing trees. It's been a long time but there it is. The possibility of unintended consequences raises an ugly head.
Lessons abound. I hope another turtle moves in and the kids keep a look out for it. This one will be missed.
The sad death of the Topstone turtle


   

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>> Next Message:  RE: CT Press: Sad death of the Snapper - vmax, Mon Dec 5 22:57:57 2011