The Deadly Mystery of the Disappearing Fishkill Bog Turtle
The Town of Fishkill is suffering from diminishing open space as developers take the back hoe to woodland after woodland across the region even threatening at one point to pave over the graves of Revolutionary War soldiers. In fact, development has destroyed precious animal habitat in Fishkill to such an extent that starving wild animals are showing up at the back doors of homes in search of food.
Now a mystery has arisen from some time ago whereas a thriving population of bog turtles has disappeared from their wetlands marked for development off Rt. 9 near a tire company. Two Environmental Protection Agency scientists who lived in the area reported that there was a thriving healthy colony of the bog turtles there but they suddenly disappeared in an “unnatural” fashion.
The pretty turtles have a brown shell with yellow or orange spots on their necks and an orange red splash on their bodies. They are four inches in length resembling those found in pet shops but with one major distinction. The bog turtles are on the Endangered Species List viewed as threatened on the Federal level and are also found on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s protected list. According to DEC there are but 74 bog turtle locations in the state but only a quarter of them currently support populations.
It is hard to say what has happened to the turtles off Rt. 9 but one thing is for sure they are very susceptible to “pesticide runoff, industrial discharge” and other poisonous agents that enter the wetlands where they are found. Over development which divides bog turtle habitats causes extreme population crashes.
Were the bog turtles the victims of foul play? It’s unsure but one DEC worker has said don’t think for a minute that “a property owner will not push an eagle’s nest out of a tree” if it suits their purposes. Let alone wipe out a peaceful colony of little turtles.
The turtles have also been victimized by poachers indicating that it is easy to catch and remove them if someone wanted to get rid of all traces of them. These tiny creatures live 30 to 50 years if undisturbed.
The problem now is that the Town of Fishkill turns a blind eye towards the actions of developers and that there does not seem to be a champion for the turtles. They are also said to have disappeared from a half dozen other sites in the town that have been developed reducing the active statewide population.
But perhaps those that live at other undisclosed locations can be saved and the perpetrators of the lost Rt. 9 colony brought to justice. Anyone with information about the disappearance of these turtle should contact DEC. Perhaps the commercial activity in the area should be re-evaluated to determine its impact on the habitant and a consideration should be made to reestablish the lost colony of bog turtles.
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