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This snapping turtle was not quite a keeper.

Turtle tales

After last week’s blog about carving turtle shells, several more turtle tales have been discussed. Here they are.

Late this summer, my son and his two ornery cousins were keenly interested in the turtle traps a local trapper had set in my parents’ farm pond. A few snappers had been seen in previous months and it became apparent that the issue should be addressed.

The four-, six- and seven-year-old boys typically run around their grandparents’ farm with wild abandon and get into every kind of mischief they can find. On that particular day their swath of general boyhood destruction and carefree conduct regularly passed through the area of the turtle traps to check in on the possibility of an apprehended aquatic reptile.

Early that afternoon, a cry of euphoria rang out that could likely be heard in the next township at the discovery that a turtle had indeed been secured. Initially out of concern, then out of curiosity and excitement nearly equal to that of the children, my brothers and I quickly rushed pond-side to size up the quarry.

In the net we found a sizeable snapping turtle, clearly not pleased with the circumstances. Visions of bowls filled with delicious turtle stew ran through my mind until we were informed by the local trapper that a “keeper” had to be at least 13 inches across. This lucky turtle was 12.75 inches and would instead be destined for a nearby creek and a respite from the impending date with the kettle.

I have not often had turtle stew, but I have enjoyed it enough times to know that we missed out on a delicious dinner. The experience was certainly not without merit, however. The almost-a-keeper turtle is still out there and now there are three newly interested turtle trappers with some time to refine their trapping skills while he grows that extra quarter inch.

Delicious turtle stew can wait. Childhood cannot.

My son and his cousins check out a turtle trap off the dock.
My son and his cousins check out a turtle trap off the dock.

 

Outdoorsman writer Dan Armitage had another interesting turtle tale in his most recent column. Here it is.

A guy in my neighborhood has an ingenious way of keeping his backyard swimming pool clean. Each spring he goes to a local farm pond and nets a painted turtle from the small lake’s abundant population. He puts the hand-sized turtle in the pool where it thrives all summer, keeping the water clean by sipping insects off the surface and eating worms and other edibles that have sunk to the bottom. While doing so, the turtle so kicks up any accumulated dirt, keeping the debris in suspension and allowing the pool filter to pick it up to keep the water crystal clear. He claims the turtles enjoy their summer vacation in the “cement pond” while keeping his pool boy duties to a minimum. The chlorine in the water doesn’t adversely affect the air breathers, he says, and actually keeps the turtles’ carapace free of algae. When not swimming around performing pool clean-up duty, the designated pool turtle rests and suns itself on the ground pool’s steps — which are too high to allow the turtle to climb out.

Each October about now, he takes the turtle back to the pond and releases it to allow it to hibernate in the mud over the cold winter months. Between the spring catch and autumn release, pool guests of all ages revel at the opportunity to swim with an amphibian and watch it “dive” off the board and suck insects from the surface — most guests, anyway. Sometimes he “forgets” to tell newcomers that they are sharing the water with a critter — until the screaming reminds him to do so.

Turtle summit organized

Speaking of turtles, the Ohio Snapping and Softshell Turtle Management Summit will be held Saturday, Oct. 17, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources  Division of Wildlife (ODOW) District 1 Office located at 1500 Dublin Road in Columbus. The focus of the meeting is the management of snapping and softshell turtles in Ohio, and individuals that have an interest in the management of these species are encouraged to attend.

During the meeting the ODOW will present information about the state of Ohio’s turtles and turtle biology, review Ohio’s existing snapping and softshell turtle regulations, discuss potential modifications to those regulations and obtain summit participant feedback on the potential modifications and other management issues.

Those interested in attending should RSVP to Sharelle Jones, by Oct. 14 at (614) 265-6343, by email at sharelle.jones@dnr.state.oh.us.

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