This past weekend while heading back home from an errand on a heavily traveled road that’s even more so now that the summer people are here I had a chance meeting with a large snapping turtle. Traffic had stopped and I saw a man carrying a large turtle from the road and onto someone’s yard. Bless him! He could have been deeply scratched by the nails on the back paws, but he seemed to know how to safely carry her. However, as traffic began to move I saw the turtle heading back towards the road! I pulled over into the shoulder and called the local police department to request that animal control help relocate the turtle safely. They said they would send someone over right away and that it would be good if I stayed to try and keep the turtle out of the road and direct the officer to her location when they arrived.
I got out of my car once I saw she was back in the shoulder heading into oncoming traffic. I noticed that one of her paws looked like it had sustained a cut. I stood near her and gently but firmly said “No no. Get back off the road” and pointed to the yard. She was looking up at me and then made her way back onto the yard!
However, once I was on the yard, too she would start heading back into the road. About four times we repeated the above: I would stand in the shoulder with her, point to the yard and ask her to go back. Each time she did! Until she didn’t.
The fifth time she went back into the shoulder, but this time didn’t stray into the road. In single file with her leading the way we began to slowly make our way towards the marsh down the road. As cars whizzed by us a beat up car going in the opposite direction suddenly stopped and forced the cars behind it to come to a quick stop. The driver rolled down her window.
I smiled and shouted: “I’ve got this. The police are on the way.”
That only angered her.
“The police?! They will kill the turtle!”
Meanwhile cars are now trying to pass her. She then quickly turned around and pulled up and stopped in the shoulder right in front of us. It happened so quickly and there were so many cars I don’t know how she did it without causing an accident. As soon as she stopped the turtle started to head under her car! There would be no way to safely stop it from going into the road from underneath her car, so I immediately stood in front of her car blocking the turtle. The turtle now stopped and pulled in her feet and head as much as she was able. This “helpful” motorist was upsetting the both of us.
Thankfully just then the police pulled in behind her.
“I’m telling you the police will kill it! What are you afraid to lift it yourself?”
I ignored her and waved the cop over pointing to the turtle which thankfully did not move.
“I was just trying to help!” she snapped as she pulled back into the heavy traffic.
When the officer walked over I explained all that had occurred, being sure to mention what the woman had said to me. He looked shocked and said of course they wouldn’t kill it! He said he would stay with the turtle until it reached the marsh and call for extra assistance if needed.
As I headed toward the car and looked in my rear view mirror I became aware that I had formed a special bond with that turtle. Despite a snapping turtle’s capacity to be menacing and dangerous she was very gentle and curiously intelligent.
An hour or so later I called the PD again (not their emergency line) to ask for an update and this time asked the dispatcher if they would ever kill a turtle. He also said never unless they needed to euthanize it due to severe injuries, and that’s only after contacting wildlife rehabs. As for my turtle friend he said they did notice the cut in her foot but it wasn’t impeding it in any way. The officer had blocked off the road and she safely made her way back into her marsh! Hooray!