Monday, May 23, 2011

Unintentional Suicide

I was driving down Highway 87 when I spotted a turtle squatting in the middle of the road. I check the rear-view to make sure the coast is clear and then pull over on the side of the road. (NOTE: If you decide to rescue a turtle there are a couple things to take into consideration. One, make sure you keep your hands and other body parts away from the business end and second, make sure you keep the other business end pointed away from you or you'll get drenched by a stream of turtle urine that's vigorous enough to knock the paint off a cadillac.) Remember the song “Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road”?? It could be classified as the “roadkill anthem”. I can’t say that I would run out in the middle of the road to save a skunk from the jaws of death, but I would, and I do, perform this necessary task (to me anyway) for a turtle…..and even a snake as they try and commit unintentional suicide. Heck, I even let others know about my intentions via a bumper sticker......

And I have done this countless times. Most times it’s a red-eared slider, but I have rescued box turtles and crotchety old snappers a time or two.

I even guided a large cottonmouth to the road’s edge. Lots of my friends thought I was especially nuts to do this. They thought I should’ve ran over it. Guess their thinking is a little different from mine.

Hey, they’re just trying to get to the other side of the road and I’m more apt to stop and help rather than do what most would do and splatter them on the highway. I’ve seen people literally go out of their way to convert a crossing animal, especially a snake, into road pizza.

I’ve had people say “it’s just a turtle” as if it won't make a difference. As I plunk the slider into the water-filled ditch it reminds me of the “Starfish Story” written by naturalist Loren Eiseley years ago, and I made a difference for that one.

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