Letter to Editor: Make way for turtles

To the Editor:

Returning from a big two-mile trip to the One-Stop in Somesville recently, I was going up and over the very short but steep grade on the Whitney Farm Road directly in front of a neighbor’s house when I saw what appeared to be a very small, 4-inch snapping turtle.

Assuming it was a turtle and not a clump of debris, I quickly pulled over and slowed to a quick stop in a driveway that leads to a hidden house a quarter mile further up this side road where we used go for frequent hikes a few years ago in healthier times.

I quickly jumped out of our car and ran back several steps to confirm that it was in fact was a turtle, and to wave down any cars coming from either directions.

In a quick glance I confirmed my original sighting: It was a turtle. I glanced at the other side of the steep grade to see if any cars were approaching from either direction. Many cars and pickups purposely speed up before approaching this steep upgrade, presumably generate enough energy to go airborne for a split second. I intentionally stood up as high as possible to be visible to all oncoming vehicles while secretly hoping none were near.

I speedily looked around and found a scrap stick to gently prod the baby turtle to speed up its movement. He seemed to be going about one hundredth of a mile per hour, while keeping an eye open especially for oncoming reckless pickups. Quarter-inch by quarter-inch the baby turtle ever, ever so slowly crawled across the road, which must have seemed to the turtle to be like a 12-lane superhighway!

Then — horrors! — I saw the inevitable car approaching at a moderate speed. I could see that the driver was a woman and I very quickly raised both arms to flag her to quickly slow down. Even with the sun shining directly at her, she apparently was still able to catch direct sight of my arms signaling to her.

She quickly came to a stop and turned on her flashing lights. By this time, the baby turtle was a mere few inches from its still-distant goal of the other side of the road.

When it wearily and finally reached a small clump of grass and secured it as a sufficiently safe area, it was time to arm-flag the woman to signal her to drive toward and pass by me.

Luckily, no other cars were coming from the other, much speedier direction.

While I’m at it (saving animals, that is), just last week on a noon walk as I approached our next-door neighbors driveway, I saw a raccoon lumbering ever so slowly across the roady. Almost at this very same moment I heard a car coming up from behind me with New York license plates, so I quickly turned around and signaled it to slow down. The car did respond ASAP and quickly slowed its speed coming to a stop to curiously watch the raccoon lumber ever so slowly across a small ditch to disappear into the woods.

Then I thought, that raccoon could very possibly be one of the two that we see nightly on our own deck!

Ted Warholak

Bar Harbor

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