By the time you read this we should have our state and federal permits in hand. These spell out the scope of the project for the coming “turtle season”. Of course we’ll continue to search for turtles in order to learn more about where and how they live. The changes will come with some new tools and hopefully some new partners.
The big news for 2017 is “Ranger,” our new Boykin Spaniel!
Ranger’s new job is to improve the quality of our data by finding box turtles that we miss in the woods. Box turtles are so easily overlooked! Their shells are well-camouflaged. Boykin Spaniels have already been used very successfully in searching for box turtles for other researchers. We hope that we get the same results here.
We want to start getting more data about disease in our turtles this year, too. So far, our disease detection has been limited to looking for signs of infection. This year we have also asked for permission to start taking swabbings of turtles. These swabs can then be shipped to cooperating researchers who can test them for the DNA of disease organisms such as ranavirus, herpesvirus, and mycoplasma. The researchers can use that data to answer bigger questions about how certain diseases can spread in a turtle population. To make that happen, we’re going to seek out researchers that have students who are interested in samples for study and analysis.