This article is from today and is super depressing. Sorry! It goes through a study a student did on whether people purposely hit animals (specifically turtles) that are crossing the road and how often. The results were pretty shocking. We’ve all seen roadkill before, and sometimes it is impossible to avoid animals that seem to pop out of the pavement. However, this article addresses people purposely swerving out of their lane to hit a fake turtle. This reckless driving kills the animal, but is also dangerous to other drivers on the road. The student was focusing on box turtles, due to their decline. In one study he counted 267 cars and 7 cars intentionally swerved to hit the fake turtle. Some other cars swerved, but missed. Another study he conducted showed just 1 turtle hit in 50 cars. However, the student put it well by saying that although this doesn’t seem like a lot, it is substantial if it takes a turtle 10 minutes or more to cross the road.
Turtles are having a hard time. This stems from the fact that even though they lay sizable clutches of eggs it takes them a long time to reach sexual maturity. With these box turtles it could take up to 7 or 8 years before they can lay eggs. However, with sea turtles, some of them don’t become sexually mature until they are around 50 years old (green turtles)!! It is not surprising that turtle species will be declining due to the advanced age needed to reproduce. This is all the more reason to make sure you do the little things that help them get there, like picking up the beaches, recycling and disposing of trash properly, or donating to a wildlife organization. So even if we don’t know why the turtle wants to cross the road, we should help them get there (or at least not purposely hinder them) so we can figure it out before there are no more turtles left.
Wiki Commons: Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives