Saturday, June 21, 2008

Guido Lives!

I have no idea why we keep giving the turtles Italian names. Scratch that. I know why I named Vincenzo, but the new turtle was purely accidental. Yesterday morning while I was out in the yard with the dog--she's a sweet dog and doesn't eat turtles, unlike some other dogs in my acquaintance--I saw a strange bump in the grass. I didn't have my glasses on, so I went across the yard to investigate; the closer I got, the stranger the bump became, especially because it developed a long, skinny neck and beady orange eyes. Turned out it was another boxie basking in the sun. A perfectly healthy, gorgeously colored, roughly ten-to-fifteen-year-old boxie. You can tell by looking at him how vital he is, and what a difference there is between poor Vincenzo and him.
The rest of the good news is that we marked him with a little dot of brightly colored nail polish to make sure we know who he is if he comes through again; chances are the dot will wear off and we won't recognize him if he does come back, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. After his photo shoot, I let him go and giggled while he trundled down the walk and disappeared into garden. Which leads me to my next thought.
Since endangered and extinct species have been in the news recently, I'm going to take the opportunity to grumble about conservation and preservation and how silly the local government is about not being more attentive to these issues: If a species is at risk and you know it's at risk, either due to habitat loss or population loss, doesn't it behoove you to do something about it before the species in question is extinct? I don't know the exact statistics, but I do know the information isn't hard to find. If even three adult box turtles are removed--and yes, three is a comparatively small number--from the wild, the effects on the population are devestating. So, if the DNR works with local people to band bats and songbirds, why not consider banding turtles so you can keep track of them? College students, the DNR, the National Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club... SOMEONE needs to think about this before the boxie goes the way of the dodo and carrier pidgeon. Not just boxies, really... but I think you get the idea.
"But they're not in any immediate danger," some overworked, harrassed bureaucrat will probably say.
That's exactly the point. People probably thought there would always be carrier pidgeons. People probably still think there will always be this animal or that plant. We become complacent, and when a disaster occurs, we mourn it, and then we begin to forget, until all that's left is a blurb in a biology textbook or in an encyclopedia, and there's a sad, stuffed specimen collecting dust in a museum.
Maybe my view is a little grim, and maybe there are bigger problems than the plight of a backwoods herp in Appalachia--that sounds like a good name for a book--but I prefer to be realistic.
On a more positive note, our property is now a certified wildlife habitat and we've got a sign tacked up to prove it. More information on such things can be found by clicking on the picture, yes it can. ;)



Rachael said...

Wow! That's very cool! My mom wanted to do that with our property back when we found gopher tortoises, which are endangered, in the backyard, but we never have... Maybe we still should. And I quite agree with you that people should be much more proactive in protecting species that might become endangered.

La Duchesse said...

Amen and pass the rootbeer!