Community group ensures safe crossing of egg-laying turtles across Blauvelt's Western Highway
There's a new push to find volunteer crossing guards to help snapping turtles cross Western Highway in Blauvelt.
Those turtles will be migrating across the road so they can lay their eggs.
"They are egg-laying females for the most part, so they're looking for the sunnier, higher, drier ground to lay their eggs and then they go home," volunteer Carolyn Hill explains. But that process is made tougher due to the busy intersection.
"Their biggest fear for us, for them is being hit by automobiles," she says, and that's where volunteers with the Turtles of Western Highway come in. The volunteers act as crossing guards for turtles trying to cross the road.
"It's nice to actually see the fruits of what we do come, you know, about three or four months once the baby turtles come out," says volunteer Mark McNeil, of Blauvelt.
"They lay about 30 to 40 eggs at a time. So those hatchlings then are on their own to find their way back to the water," Hill explains.
The turtles are an integral part of the filtration system of the community's drinking water and for more than five years, the Turtles of Western Highway have looked after the amphibians. They say these turtles are just like having another neighbor.
"They've lived here for decades, a lot longer than we have, and people have a true connection, a personal connection with them," Hill says.
In addition to cones and road signs that advise drivers to drive slow, the volunteers helped to build barricade fences and nesting mounds that allow the turtles to lay their eggs without having to cross the busy road.
And as for drivers on the road, volunteers say slow and steady wins the race to keep these turtles safe.