Turtles Test

Sep 9, 2022 | Living the Peckham Way

I’ve always loved the outdoors and the fascination it brings me with the wildlife that finds a home beyond ours in nature. Growing up, my father taught myself and my sibling to respect all living things. We were raisedon a farm in New York State, the same one I live on today, and I took pride in assisting injured wildlife. I began my acclimation in helping injured animals when my father would bring home injured wildlife on his way home from his job as a railroad engineer. Since then, I’ve studied frogs from across the world—and my daughters have won every science fair they’ve participated in with our frogs and the various critters that lived with us.Throughout my time studying wildlife, I’ve been made aware most peopledon’t realize that animals, plants, and marine biodiversity keeps ecosystems functional. By maintaining healthy ecosystems, our survival remains intact. Wild animals help in creating and stabilizing ecosystems. Without them, the earth wouldn’t be habitable for humans. Although I’ve worked with manyanimals, I’ve been specialized in native turtles for over 40 years. For me, the value of protecting turtles is to help keep a healthy, functioning ecosystem going as intended. I was pulled to work with them given the fact there are only a handful of licensed wildlife rehabilitators that work with turtles.As a turtle rehabilitator, I work with the NYSDEC and Massachusetts DEC, as well as places that take in injured wildlife from the public, and I take in confiscated turtles brought to me by the DEC. I teach the staff at their institutions how to properly care for their turtles; if there is a public display of their turtles, I set it up for them so people can see how they live in the wild. Additionally, I design and build custom turtle enclosures on wheels—such as in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. I’ve personally trained their staff on proper turtle care so they can educate the public on how important it is not to take them as pets: To leave them where you find them. I also revamped the turtle display at the Berkshire Museum and taught their staff properturtle care. In all that I do, I’m an advocate for all turtles shown in public places that are not set upproperly.In late spring and early summer turtles are on the move looking for a mate, a nesting site or looking aroundfor new food spots. This annual expedition to find a well-drained sunlit spot can be extremely dangerous forturtles. These animals venture long distances to find the ideal place to lay their eggs or even travel to the same ancestral nesting ground they have used for decades. Many may be surprised to know turtles havevery strong navigational skills. Most eggs and hatchlings get eaten by racoons, foxes, coyotes, ants, skunks, and many other predators. For populations to thrive, turtles must live a long time and lay many eggs. Because turtles are long lived species that mature slowly and have low productive outputs, the survival andlongevity of adults, especially females, is critical to the survival of populations. A female Eastern Box turtle is roughly 10 years old or more before she lays viable eggs. The fact that turtles killed in the road, disproportionately affects mature females means that for some populations, only losing a few turtles per year can tilt the balance toward gradual extirpation.Each time I receive a call about an injured turtle, there’s plenty of work to be done. Their shell may resemble that of a jigsaw puzzle; pieces of shelldangling, completely missing, or disconnected from the rest of their shell. When I work with them, I put back the pieces I have,wire them in place by drilling small holes on the outer edge of the shell, and I glue small rings tohold the wire in place. Additionally, I cover missing shell pieces with gauze, which I clean and change daily. Although the shell never grows back, it eventuallyhardens much like leather. They’re given antibiotic injections and hydration with the time and proper care so they can heal and make a full recovery before being released back into the wild. In instances where a turtle is found dead, with viable eggs, I’ll take them, hatch them, and release them.Everyone needs to give back something to the ecosystem. There are so many ways to participate in helping our planet, that there’s really no valid excuse not to give back. This dedication and commitment to serveembraces the Peckham Way by educating and provide challenging, developmental oportunities to enable others to be all they can be.Photo by Poughkeepsie JournalLiving the Peckham Way:The Value of Protecting Turtles