Magazine article American Forests

The Turtle Trackers

Magazine article American Forests

The Turtle Trackers

Article excerpt

In a tiny pocket of a suburban landscape in Dutchess County, New York--wedged between a high school, a golf course, and a freeway--an uninteresting-looking patch of forest and swamp is actually a multi-million dollar artificial habitat built to protect and study a handful of turtles.

"In the last 10 years much has been said about how frogs are not doing well around the world. As a group, turtles are as bad off," says Erik Kiviat, executive director of Hudsonia, an environmental research group in New York's Hudson Valley.

Hudsonia strives to protect one species, the Blanding's turtle, which is listed as threatened in the state. The reptiles live up to 80 years and reach sexual maturity in their mid-teens, although many don't live long enough to reproduce. Raccoons favor their eggs, people collect them as pets, they're sensitive to habitat fragmentation and loss, and many perish on roadways. (Blanding's turtles travel a mile or more to find optimal nesting sites and often cross highways.)

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Hudsonia created this particular habitat eight years ago, just before a nearby high school expanded and paved over the existing wetland the turtles called home. …

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