Eastern Box Turtle Study
By Ray Smith
From Issue 6: Spring 2010
As spring approaches the box turtles will begin to stir from their winter habitats or hibernacula. As they begin traveling to their May-June nesting sites you may well encounter one on your road or in your yard. Admire its exquisite plastron pattern—but please don’t move it except to the side of the road if necessary. They have established routes within their ranges.
We have been monitoring the box turtle population on our 65 acres for the past five years, seeking to understand their behavior and determine the boun-daries of their range. So far we have found 28 turtles: seven have been found in more than one year, and two were in the process of laying eggs. Last fall, we outfitted one of them with a transmitter in the hope of determining her movements this spring with more accuracy. Each turtle is photographed and, because their plastron patterns are as unique as fingerprints, we can then quickly match a turtle with one found a year or more earlier.
On May 16 we will have our third turtle day sponsored by the Wallkill Valley Land Trust, to which anyone is invited for a morning hunt for turtles. Anyone who is interested can receive more information from and sign up with the Land Trust, 255-2761. We invite you to learn more about our project at www.boxturtlesny.com.