Last week, John Rucker came out to the Greensboro Science Center with his Boykin spaniels (AKA Turtle Dogs). The dogs have been trained to literally sniff out turtles. Before getting down to serious business with The HERP Project summer campers, John gave GSC staff a little taste of what his dogs can do.
After a brief introduction, John said, “Find turtles.” The dogs took off! They ran around the edges of a pond, through thickets, and along a small stream on the hunt for their prize. After just a few minutes, one of the dogs, Jenny Wren, ran up to John with her catch in her mouth… Don’t worry, the dogs have been trained to be soft-mouthed, simply holding the turtle gently until John takes it from them. In a span of about 30 minutes, Jenny Wren and Mink found 2 eastern box turtles.
What did we do with the turtles?
The Greensboro Science Center is home to a 22-acre study zone for box turtles as part of the Box Turtle Connection. For the third consecutive year, GSC zookeepers have been finding turtles, taking photos and collecting data for the project, then releasing the turtles back where they were found. Data collected includes the turtle’s sex, life stage, length, height, and weight.
This information is added to a statewide database that will help determine the stability of box turtle populations. So far this season, six turtles have been found at the GSC’s study zone.
Want to get involved?
The Box Turtle Connection website offers a couple of different ways you can get involved, depending on what level of commitment you are able to offer the program. For more information about the project and to learn how you can get involved, visit their website: https://boxturtle.uncg.edu/.