Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Slow down

There's a special place in hell for drivers who intentionally swerve out of their lanes to kill box turtles; the smashed shells on the shoulder are testament to this cruel and sick behaviour. When I first moved to the Ozarks I was truly horrified to see so many dead box turtles in the road. It's really not that difficult to avoid hitting them (for god's sake), they're not zooming across the road with such rapidity that any conscientious driver couldn't avoid hitting them.

So when I first moved here and commuted from my maintenance shed living quarters to my place of employment, I stopped and moved every turtle I encountered on the lettered highways. I had more time for engaging in natural history then, for recording the first time I saw fireflies each May, when the whip-por-wills started calling in the woods. And I kept track of how many turtles I moved in my little field notebook. By the end of July, I had moved over 300 turtles off the road and recorded 128 dead turtles on the same commute. Oh, it's not the safest practice, slamming on the brakes to move wildlife from the road, but I did it for snakes and toads, too. There was the time when I parked at the crest of a hill to move a turtle, failed to put my emergency brake on, and my car rolled downhill into the ditch. I wasn't accustomed to hills, nor with the various gears in my stick shift Honda. Nevertheless, I moved the turtle, was late for work, and remain grateful to guys with trucks and chains who drive around waiting to pull cars out of ditches.

It's that time of year again when box turtles truck across several lanes of traffic. The poor dears, they're not adapted to living in a world with speeding vehicles and the twisted souls who find pleasure in taking their lives. Drivers should slow down and consciously avoid hitting turtles this spring. The fatalities are surely adding up. Seriously, it's really not that hard to avoid hitting turtles.


Victoria - Ozarks Crescent Mural said...

That is one of my most amazing memories. When I first moved to the Ozarks, it was in May, and the turtles were everywhere on the roads. I couldn't believe my eyes. I thought I had been transported to wonderland. I can't imagine hitting the turtles and you are a saint for moving so many of them and other creatures off of the roads. Luckily, in Douglas County, I rarely saw any dead ones.

Randy Tindall said...

My wife and I were once told by a wildlife biologist that if you rescue a turtle on the road, make sure you take it to the side of the road it was heading to. Otherwise, he said, it will turn right around and try to cross the road again. This fellow was doing a study of turtle behavior and territoriality at the Prairie Fork conservation area about 30-some miles east of Columbia. For what it's worth.

By the way, thanks for stopping to do this! My wife and I do it, too. I have always wondered at the mental state of people who would deliberately run over an animal. Keep up the good work.

Randy Tindall\

Allison Vaughn said...

You're right, and I always help them in the same direction they were headed. Today I escorted a copperhead and a tarantula across two separate gravel roads. People swerve out of the way to hit them, too...
Thanks for reading, allison