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One of the local residents

The mud turtle who lives in the swamp below my house was out for a stroll earlier this afternoon, reminding me it’s that time of year again when turtles are on the move. The females climb out of their waters and head for a sandy, sunny spot to lay their eggs. Often they have to cross a road or other wide open spaces to get there, exposing them to predators and other dangers, most notably vehicles.

People often see turtles stranded out in the middle of a road and stop to help. That’s okay with some cautions. You should wear gloves – they may carry salmonella. Also, move them in the direction they were going. Don’t always assume they were heading for water.

If it’s a snapping turtle, don’t handle it at all. Use a shovel or large limb to prod it along. They’re ill-tempered and have a quick, hard bite that and sever a finger or toe.

Years ago there was an elderly gentleman in my neighborhood who offered to pay me a dollar a turtle if I would bring some back for him, and 50 cents for every big frog (keep in mind this was in the early sixties). When I asked him what he wanted them for, he said turtle soup was a delicacy, and so were frog legs. I didn’t have the stomach to do business with him.

Today, most Massachusetts turtles are protected, though a few of the most common species aren’t.

This is a great time to get out and look for turtles, watch them for awhile. If you’re lucky enough to see where they lay their eggs, mark it and come back to check if they’ve hatched in the fall, usually in September. But whatever you do, please don’t eat the turtles.


Dead bats litter the floor of a cave

Word this week that White Nose Syndrome (WNS) has been found in two caves in western Maine is just more bad news for the disappearing bat population. While considerable progress has been made in identifying and understanding the killer fungus that’s driving the region’s bat population to extinction, little has been done to stop or even slow the plunge.

WNS was first identified in 2006 in two caves in upstate New York, after wildlife officials there reported mysterious die-offs among hibernating bats. Since then, the culprit has been identified as a previously unknown fungus, Geomyces destructans. Apparently it causes hibernating bats to wake up too early, when there’s no food around, and, already in a weakened state, they die.

Since it was first discovered, it has spread to 18 states and four Canadian provinces. WNS has killed more than a million bats, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

For those thinking good riddance to the creepy little critters, guess again.

In the ecosystem, they provide an important pest control service. Those million dead bats would have eaten something on the order of 3 million pounds of insects each year. In agricultural areas, this would have meant billions in savings on pesticides.

Last week, the USFWS announced a nationwide effort to slow and eventually stop the spread of WNS and restore the region’s bat population. Let’s hope it’s not too little, too late.

Nature Blog Network


RSS The Ecocryptic

  • Maine DEP update July 31, 2013
    Maine Department of Environmental Protection has reversed itself and will schedule a public hearing on proposed changes to the state's clean air standards. No date has been set.Environmental groups, legislators, and the general public were outraged when the Portland Press Herald reported yesterday that the state agency had tried to sneak through the cha […]
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    Despite massive public opposition, significantly over-budget, and three years behind schedule,  the CEO of the Northern Pass Project vows the controversial high voltage transmission line will be built.The project is a 180-mile power line that would bring power from Canada to New England. It first came to the attention of environmentalists and others when the […]
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  • Victory for the Blackstone: Court backs EPA, Worcester must stop dumping sewage into river August 7, 2012
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  • NH Senate Denies Eminent Domain for Northern Pass – Or Does It? January 30, 2012
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  • Northern Pass Developers Pushing State To Take Land By Force January 24, 2012
    Ever since the controversy began over the construction of a new transmission line to bring power from Canada into New Hampshire slicing through some of that state’s most scenic landscape, the backers of the project have been quietly lobbying for eminent domain powers to force reluctant landowners along the proposed route to sell.The issue gets its first real […]
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RSS Martin Laine – Digital Journal

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    Pity James Tully who has the misfortune of resembling Eric Frein, the object of a massive manhunt following the ambush shooting of two police officers six weeks ago, and who lives in Canadensis, Pa., the epicenter of the search.
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