IT'S HAPPENED AGAIN !
Down on the East shore it's happening again at the Soutar's beach. Move over folks. A Moma snapping turtle has shown up and Jim thinks she has laid her eggs once again on their beach. Jim Soutar is kind of like the godfather of turtles, keeping watch over the area. It takes the eggs many weeks, three times as long as the loon eggs to hatch...It mostly depends on the weather and the temperature of the sand.
The Soutar's make sacrifices for the sake and love of nature...marking off the area and keeping the buried eggs from being disturbed or stepped on. Since this situation exist for weeks on end, I would think at some point one would think enough is enough, but the Soutar's are patient people . Ms. Turtle couldn't have picked a better incubating place for her eggs or better caretakers....
Its nice to know we have people in the world like this, that respects wildlife and nature. And what a wonderful world we live in.. Being able to live by the water, see and enjoy the activities of wildlife at its very best....WOW !
Photos provided by Jim Soutar
I contacted the Vt Fish & Wildlife Department and did some research. This is what Zooologist Mark Ferguson had to say.
Snapping turtles are afforded some protection in Vermont, as they are wildlife. It is legal to take snapping turtles for food, which requires a fishing or hunting license (depending on the location of the lake). It would not however be legal to set traps for them in Vermont without a special license to do so. Only a minnow trap is allowed with a fishing license. Eggs would be considered wildlife, just as a hatchlings or adult turtles. It may be possible to move eggs if they are in harms' way, but this is tricky and survival of the eggs is unlikely if not handled properly. A person should always contact the Vt Fish & Wildlife Dept before attempting to move turtle eggs, in most cases, moving them is unnecessary and the eggs should be left to hatch where they are if the area can be avoided.
Snapping turtles are docile, reclusive animals. People swim in waters that support snapping turtles all the time without even knowing there are there. It is only when a turtle is seen that people sometimes become concerned . I am not aware of any snapping turtles in the water that have bitten anyone, even if they are stepped on. These turtles know they blend in and have little to fear from swimmers. However, a snapping turtle should be approched with caution when it is on land. This is most often a female attempting to find a spot to lay eggs, whch can be a half a mile or from the water.
When out of the water, these turtles know they are much more vulnerable to attack by predators, so are more likely to try to defend themselves. This is not a problem unless someone is purposefully approching the turtle. "A snapping turtle has a powerful, sharp beak that is capable of inflicting a serious bite. No one should try to pick up such an animal without good reason and they will take a very serious risk of being bitten.
Predation changes with life stages. 'Eggs are vulnerable to many nest predators, including skunks, foxes, raccoons, mink and squirrels. Even ants may attack a nest, but this is often after one of the eggs has gone bad..Hatchlings and young turtles are eaten by a wide varitety of animals, including gulls, large fish, raccoons, bullfrogs, herons, otters, and any other capable animal that might chance across them.
Once a snapping turtle reaches adult size it has few if any predators, except humans and their machines. Turtles are hunted as food by some and are sometimes killed by misinformed anglers who view them as gamefish predators.
The most significant risk, is roads which often intersect the paths of snapping turtles as they cross land, particularly egg laying females that travel long distances to nest. This is a long lived species that depends on high survivorship of adults over time. Cars are a predator, that the snapping turtle wasn't counting on as it evolved....
^^^^^Update 2011 Jim reports that a few days after the last nice warm weekend of September, there was a hatch. He set up the temporary turtle bridge and ramp for the little guys, which assisted them in crawling up and over a barrier and headed in the right direction to the water's edge. Since Jim works and is not there all the time, he saw just a handfull of babies one day when he arrived back at camp.
The last one to crawl up and out of the hole in the sand seemed weak and perhaps cold, .but they all made it to waters edge and took off swiming north. The water temperature around that time was in the low 60's. The eggs were not affected by high waters from flooding and therefore survived. Thanks to Mama turtles choice of laying her eggs high and dry from the waters edge and the Soutar's protective care of the nesting site.