Wednesday, May 11, 2016

"Give the turtles a brake"

We were driving down a rural road last summer when suddenly my wife hit the brakes. As there was no traffic, I was alarmed.

"What's the matter?" I asked. "Is something wrong with the truck?"

"No," she said, a hint of exasperation in her voice. "There's a turtle in the road."

And she hopped out and walked over to where the critter was, picked him up and carried him to the roadside where she placed him on the ground.

"Now I feel better," she said.

"He'll just walk back out in the road," I said.

"I hope not," she said. "I faced him away from it."

"Oh, good grief," I said.

Turns out she did the right thing, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation.

"The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) encourages motorists to give turtles crossing roads a brake," according to a news release we received here at the office yesterday. "Turtles are struck by cars throughout warmer months, but are at special risk this time of year because they are on the move. Young males make up most of the travelers as they search for territories of their own and for female turtles. Comfort is also a factor. Like other reptiles, turtles are cold-blooded so basking on warm asphalt feels good on cool spring days."

According to the conservationists, my wife did exactly the right thing.

"MDC encourages motorists to slow down when they see a turtle in the road and check to be sure they can safely steer around it. If helping a turtle cross a road, keep human safety as the number-one concern. Check for traffic and move the turtle across the road in the direction it is traveling," the news release said.

Continuing, the notice said: "The three-toed box turtle is a species often seen crossing roads in Missouri. Primarily a woodland species, it is found everywhere but the extreme northern part of the state. The ornate box turtle is also a common traveler and is found in all but the southeastern corner of the state. It is more adapted to grasslands and is most common in western Missouri. For more information on Missouri turtles, visit our online Filed Guide at [ ]."

So, once again, I was wrong, she was right. The story of my life.

Watch out for turtles.

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