Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Beatrice Chronicles Part 3

After the re-disappearance of Beatrice the Blanding's Turtle I searched about a 4 mile radius around her last known location. The searching did not happen all in one day and was completely dependent on other work tasks that needed to be done and/or however my boss was feeling that day. So it was about five separate attempts to relocate Beatrice. One day I searched south, then west, then thought maybe she'd be the kind of jerky turtle who would go back to where we first found her and check east. And of course, last but not least, I checked north. I also checked west again... just to be sure.

Jokes by co-workers and my boss were made at my expense. I made jokes that she probably made it out to Prior Lake, which if you're not familiar is a pretty stinkin' big lake. It would be pretty impossible to try to track her there, based on the size of the lake and the amount of private property along its shore. It's also 5 miles away from Cleary Lake, which many turtle experts would readily say is an exceptionally long distance for a turtle to travel. Nobody thought she would really go as far as Prior lake.

And then I got a call. It was Madeleine calling to let me know that someone had found Beatrice... in Jordan. A mere 15 miles from her last known location! No wonder I couldn't track her signal, she had already gotten the heck out of dodge.
Someone had found her in a neighbor's yard, saw the radio on her shell, and brought her in to the Minnesota River Valley Nature Center (or something like that). The person at the nature center noticed the phone number on the radio and BAM! We're back on Beatrice's track... no thanks to me, I guess.

Beatrice was released again in a nice looking pond close to where she was found. I will be sent out on a sporadic basis to check on her location, which currently happens to be about a one block's distance from the Minnesota River. This basically means that if she stays put for once I'll have a good idea of where is.... and if she makes her way to the river... there will be absolutely no way to figure out where she might be going... and then the jokes will probably start all over again.

I google searched Blanding's Turtles. One website said that female Blanding's turtles have been known to travel up to one mile away from their wintering location! One mile! One mile?!?! Beatrice was found 15 miles away from her last known location! Actually, about 18 miles from where she was first released! This brings up serious questions about how turtles (OK. how this one turtle) may travel in an increasingly urbanized environment.
Of course turtle-car collisions never turn out in the turtle's favor. The increase in impermeable surfaces with expanding roadways and pavement may increase the amount of water in the ditch system; could this increase a turtle's ability to travel long distances? Maybe. But maybe that would be dependent upon precipitation levels. This year has been very wet so far. What happens if it doesn't rain as much next year? Would turtles like Beatrice be forced to cross over roads instead of through culverts? What if there are more turtles out there like Beatrice? Wandering turtles with a love of adventure and a sly sense of humor that sends humans in circles trying to stay on their trails. Will these turtles thrive or just survive? And for how long? McMansions are being put up all over the Prior Lake area, covering up where Beatrice or some other turtle may have wanted to lay her eggs. Can a species like this last long term in a place where people's dreams get bigger and more developed everyday? I don't know.... but I'd like to find out.

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