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Few Turtles Found in Recent Weekend Search


By Martha-Anne Hawley, Record-Journal staff
October 7, 2004

CHESHIRE Just as it planned to do, the Quinnipiac River Watershed Association set out Saturday and Sunday in search of turtles along the Ten Mile River floodplain for its Turtle Crossing Project.

Association Executive Director Mary Mushinsky said the volunteers combed the area in groups looking for turtles and recording data such as the turtles' locations and weights. They also notched the turtles to help keep count of them. She said the number of volunteers totaled about 20 on both days.

"We didn't find a lot" of turtles, Mushinsky said, adding that the cooler weather might be a reason. "We're not sure if there are fewer than there has been in recent history."

The search came about largely due to the Wallinger Family Partnership's application to the Planning and Zoning Commission for a permit to build a recycling transfer station on a turtle nesting spot at 551 W. Johnson Ave.

Tony Ianello, head of the Turtle Crossing Project, said the QRWA and representatives from the Wallinger Family Partnership worked together Tuesday to survey the area and try to come up with a solution that would allow for the development while protecting wildlife.

"Both sides are working together," Ianello said. "I think this will work."

Several species of turtles use that nesting spot, including spotted, snapping, musk, eastern box and wood turtles, QRWA ecologist Sigrun Gadwa told the Record-Journal earlier this month. Some of these are classified by the state Department of Environmental Protection as "species of special concern."

"They had a really great time," Mushinsky said of the volunteers. She said the volunteer groups were made up of many different ages and included parent-child teams and "closet" turtle fans.

Mushinsky said the winter months will be used to collect more data on the turtles and to hold training sessions for Turtle Crossing Project volunteers.

Ianello said that sometime around April, the project will conduct more sweeps of the area to help track early nesting and turtle counts. He said that it will take years for the turtle population in the area to grow because turtles take so long to reproduce.

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