John and his dog,Venus were hiking through a local farm field when they came upon a damaged turtle. John noticed the turtles damaged shell and realized the turtle was in trouble. He set about trying to find someone who could help get the turtle the care that he needed.
“It was a Sunday” John recalls, “and everyplace I called was closed or did not deal with wildlife. I found the Sanctuary through a search on my phone, and they were happy to help this little guy out, and agreed to meet me nearby. They took what little knowledge I knew about where I found him, and said that if his injuries were not life threatening, they hoped to be able to return him to the wild, once he was healed and they had a chance to check out the habitat where he came from.”
“I am so glad that I decided to take that hike with Venus that day, she is the one that pointed him out to me. I also learned a lot about turtles and their struggle for habitat.”
So This is Jack. Like Many Turtles, One Eye Jack was a victim of a motorized vehicle. Being on soft earth likely saved his life. Jack lost an eye, a leg and was left with a badly broken shell. Unable to move, Jack was fortunate that John and his dog came along and got him the help he needed. Jack has healed now, but is unable to contribute to wild populations, and with only one eye, catching live food is difficult.
Box Turtles are aptly named. In the face of danger, they close up tightly, like a box, to wait out the danger. Unfortunately, when motorized vehicles are involved, turtles don’t have a chance. Jack was a lucky one.
Do we release Jack back into the wild, into a habitat that is already compromised, and with diminished mobility and sight?
When Box turtles are found injured, and taken to a licensed wildlife veterinarian, and then supported by a rehabber, they are required to be returned to the exact place where they were found. Normally this is a good practice, as box turtles learn their habitat as they grow and will try to return to it if they are removed from it. Unfortunately often times this habitat is already compromised, which likely contributed to the injury.
Wildlife rehabilitators work with Veterinarians to provides medical care to injured, sick, or orphaned wildlife. Their goal is to treat the animal by providing suitable diet and nutrition, and safe and sanitary shelter, while it recovers, with the goal to return it to its native habitat:
” The goal is not to make pets out of wildlife, to display them around humans, or to release any wildlife with handicaps in which they may not be able to protect themselves, not healthy enough to thrive unable to fit in with other wildlife, or become vulnerable to predators.
Being a wildlife rehabber is a full time, unpaid, volunteer position, and most are not in a situation to be able to keep any of the animals that they tend to. Having to euthanize any animal is difficult, and it is often a thin line that must be drawn. You will find rehabbers releasing turtles that have handicaps (3 legs) or broken and missing pieces of their shells, making them vulnerable to predators. According to Virginia State Laws the only other option is euthanasia.
As the Box Turtle is not a game species in Virginia, it is silently disappearing through-out the state. Small and insignificant, there are few studies done within the commonwealth. Land held by the state is often used for other purposes, including logging, which leaves only private property as a last retreat for these ancient reptiles.
The Box Turtle Sanctuary is making a difference in the lives of turtles like Jack by providing a safe and natural habitat for Jack to live his life.
Jacks new habitat, will provide generations of children a place to explore the wonders of a turtles world. To see and discover how our native Box turtles live, what they eat, how they evolved, and what we can do to help them survive.
But we need your support. Sign up to learn how you can be an advocate for box turtles, volunteer for fence building day, or Donate. Every little bit that goes toward our Shell ID App or our New Fence, helps us move forward to our ultimate goal to provide a turtle educational center for children of all ages.
- A place to explore the fascinating world of the Eastern Box Turtle
- To promote and encourage the protection of native habitat
- To provide safe sanctuary to misplaced and lost box turtles.
Please sign up for BTS of CVA’s Newsletter, and Don’t forget to share this with your turtle loving friends..!
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
― Dr. Seuss, The Lorax