Friday 4 August 2023

Wow, There Is Still A Turtle

    Yesterday I had just left McBride and was heading home, when I noticed a small low black object on the highway.  When I went by it, I suddenly realized that it was a turtle, “Yes, a Turtle!”  I was amazed and filled with joy.  I immediately slowed down and turned around to go rescue it, but by the time I got out of the car, another woman was standing out in the highway waving her hands to slow the oncoming traffic to protect the slow moving reptile in the middle of the highway.

    I was so happy to see a turtle again, it brought back all kind of memories for me.  Here is the story:

    Turtles are not indigenous to the Robson Valley, but I was told that back in the 1990’s a resident of McBride, who was visiting down in Southern BC, brought five turtles back with him and let them loose in Horseshoe Lake.  I was unaware of this, until two co-worker at the Forest Service returning to the office, saw a turtle crossing the highway, stopped and picked it up, and then they stopped again upon seeing me, biking home from work.  They told me they had just found a turtle, which was a surprise to all of us, and gave it to me, because I had recently built my pond.

    I put the Western Painted Turtle in my pack, biked home, and released it into my pond, where it hung around for months, then disappeared.  

    The following year, someone came to the Forestry Office with another turtle they had found crossing the highway, and so I was called to the “Front Desk” because everyone in the office were aware of that first turtle I had been given, and so once again I was presented with a turtle.  I took this new turtle home and put it in my pond.  This one stuck around for several years.  I really enjoyed spotting it in the pond, swimming or resting in the sun on the floating island I had made.  

    Since turtles were not indigenous to the area, I wasn’t sure if it would survive the winter, but it must have dug itself into the mud, like they normally do during winter, and I saw it again the following spring.  It lived on my pond for four or five years, before, it too wandered off and disappeared.

    I heard nothing more about any turtles for about twenty years.  I assumed all of those turtles that had been brought to the valley had probably died.  That is why I was so happy to see one again.  I can’t be sure if this was one of the original turtles or better yet, an offspring of one of them.  The one I saw yesterday was a bit smaller than the turtles I had.  The Western Painted Turtle population is really dropping in its natural home in Southern BC, so I hope if we do have more than one here, that they will thrive. 

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