May 272014
 

Groton Girl Scout Troop 66109 visit the Baralock  Hill Turtle Project\

Groton Girl Scout Troop 66109 visit the Baralock Hill Turtle Project

If everything goes as planned, you’ll be seeing some bright new “Turtle Crossing” signs on Groton roadways before late summer, when turtle eggs hatch and baby turtles try to make it across roads to the swamps and wetlands that will be their nurseries.

Groton Girl Scout Troop 66109 is working with Darcy Donald and Joan Caruso of the newly formed Baralock Hill Turtle Project to increase the number of warning signs on area roads. The troop is helping with the project as its Silver and Gold Award activity for this year. (Baralock Hill is north of State Route 40 between Shattuck Road and Gibbet Hill, south of Martin’s Pond Road. — Ed.)

The project and the scouts have three goals, according to a media release from Donald:

  • To map roads in Groton where there are frequent turtle sightings
  • Inform people about the extraordinary attributes of turtles
  • Raise funds for the purchase of the road signs, to be installed by the town Department of Public Works

To support the mapping part of its project, the Girl Scout troop asks residents to send in emails if you live in or near Groton and have seen turtles crossing the road or in a yard. They need:

  • The location – street address or a landmark
  • Approximate date
  • What you saw

According to the media release,

“This will aid the girls mapping of the turtle crossing areas in Groton for future signage.

The Scouts learned interesting facts about the several species of turtles found in Groton, including the Blandings, Spotted, and Wood turtles, whose dwindling numbers have caused them to be listed as species of conservation concern. The group also heard about the incubation of rescued turtle eggs from a resident who is being trained in turtle rehabilitation.

Turtles must be at least 10 years old to reproduce. The mortality rate of their hatchlings is very high. As ancient as the dinosaurs, turtles now face increasing threats from cars, disturbed habitats, and predators. If fortunate enough to survive, they can live for decades. Blandings turtles can live for more than a century and cannot reproduce until they mature at 20 years. Turtles have excellent night and color vision and have intellects equal to rats when navigating mazes. Their biology as reptiles is highly complex; from lungs, kidneys, and livers that do not age to absorbing oxygen from water through specialized tissue in the throat and tail opening when submerged at the bottom of wetlands during hibernation.

The Scouts plan to begin mapping roads with high turtle activity during the egg laying season in May and June and in August to October as hatchlings move to wetlands. They will begin fund raising projects to purchase signage in the fall, all the while researching and learning more about turtles. The high school Girl Scout will create a website for the Baralock Turtle Project to fulfill her Gold Award program. Their combined efforts and enthusiasm should greatly improve the chances for turtle survival in Groton.”

For more information on the Baralock Hill Turtle Project, contact the organizers at alananddarcy.donald@gmail.com or 978 448 5032.