Site Created By Elliott Bartels 2009

Box Turtle Project

BOX AND WOOD TURTLE PROJECT

2013 Box Turtle Project Update


What is happening to the Eastern Box Turtle and Wood Turtle?

The populations of these turtles have decreased significantly over the past few decades due to pet trade, commercial enterprise, and mainly habitat destruction.  Water pollution and increased deforestation have greatly decreased turtle populations across Pennsylvania and surrounding states.  The construction of roads and habitat fragmentation are also leading causes of population decline.  

 

Interesting Turtle Facts:

  1. These turtles live most of their lives in a small space of land known as their home range (a plot not much bigger than two football fields) near their birth place.  
  2. Wood Turtles live up 60 years or more and the Eastern Box Turtle can live to be over 100 years old!
  3. The Eastern Box Turtle is a terrestrial (land dwelling) reptile who prefers moist forested areas, wet meadows, and floodplains.  
  4. The Wood Turtle is a semi-aquatic reptile who lives in and along streams and deciduous woodlands.
  5. Year after year, these turtles roam their home range returning to special sites where they have learned they can find food, water, shelter, and mates.  
  6.  If removed or displaced from their original habitat/home territory, these turtles will be compelled to look for "home" and may starve, freeze, eaten, or hit by a car on the road searching for their territory.
  7. Box Turtles lay only 3-8 eggs and Wood Turtles lay only 7-8 eggs per year.  Very few if any of these eggs hatch and become adults due to climate change, predators, and human interference. 
  8. These turtles rely mainly on habitual and chance encounters in order to find a mate.  Thinning a population leaves behind many adult turtles who may never meet another adult turtle and mate again.  A self sustaining turtle population needs more than 10 individuals per acre.  

The Project

Purpose:

  1. To protect and increase populations of these rapidly declining native species. Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina) and Wood Turtle (Clemmys insculpta).
  2. To protect, improve and increase box and wood turtle habitats within North Park.
  3. To create and provide public awareness, educational, and volunteer opportunities.
  4. To gather and create a database of statistical information that can be shared with the scientific community.
  5. To petition Pennsylvania State Legislature to appoint the eastern box turtle as the State Reptile.


BOX AND WOOD TURTLE ENCLOSURE

Purpose:

  1. To provide a natural, safe, secure and healthy habitat to house and maintain, short term, long term and permanently, injured, displaced, and otherwise non-releasable native box turtles and wood turtles.
  2. Document to a permanent file all physical and statistical data on every individual found or brought in: general physical condition; size; weight; age; sex; distinguishing marks and features; injuries or other medical conditions; medical treatments; photograph; microchip; date and location found; date and reason admitted; date, and map and GPS location of release; finder’s name, address, telephone number and interim care given.
  3. To provide vital breeding opportunities and optimum nesting sites for non-releasable turtles.
  4. To document and release, at a suitable size, all hatchlings produced, into optimum local habitats.
  5. To document and release any individual back to its known capture site once healthy, if habitat is suitable.

NORTH PARK BOX AND WOOD TURTLE CENSUS

Purpose:

  1. To actively seek out box and wood turtles at Latodami, to eventually include all of North Park: mark locations found on map and with GPS; scan for microchip, if none found, implant microchip; document or re-document all individuals; return to exact location found.
  2. Document to a permanent file, all physical and statistical data on every individual found or brought in: general physical condition; size; weight; age; sex; distinguishing marks and features; injuries or other medical conditions; medical treatments if required; photograph; microchip if required; date and map and GPS location found; date and reason if admitted; date, and map and GPS location of release; finder’s name, address, telephone number and interim care given.

EXPANDED ACTIVITIES

  1. Develop and/or acquire educational materials and curriculum.
  2. Create educational brochure on Latodami’s Box and Wood Turtle Project.
  3. Create educational brochure on box and wood turtles.
  4. Create educational displays in Latodami Barn.
  5. Develop and implement outreach opportunities for the public. Contests, press releases, educational programs, volunteer program, etc.
  6. Seek, apply and implement grants.