SL Twp. resident concerned about turtles

A local wildlife activist is sticking her neck out and pleading with people to slow down near the Lloyd's Bayou Bridge.
Marie Havenga
Jun 21, 2014

In the past 10-14 days, Sue Rhem-Westhoff said she has seen 10 turtles killed on the south side of the bridge near land that was recently cleared by Spring Lake Township.

“For about the last two weeks, there's been carnage — great big ones and little ones,” Rhem-Westhoff said. “We see some every year because they're migrating to lay eggs, but this year has been unprecedented.”

On a recent afternoon, the carcasses of two large snapping turtles lay on the road shoulder immediately south of the bridge. Rhem-Westhoff said the turtles that she's seen squished on Leonard Road ranged from 4-inches to about a foot in diameter.

Although she said she loves the look of the newly cleared township-owned land on the west side of Leonard Road and is not blaming the township for the turtle deaths, Rhem-Westhoff said the mowers may have disrupted natural habitat and caused the turtles to flee.

“Where they used to hide is all mowed down,” she said.

During a normal spring, Rhem-Westhoff said she'll stop her car, get out and move two to three turtles to safety. This year, she said it's a blood-bath, and she's received calls from several other residents who voiced concerns about the dead turtles.

“I don't know how to make people slow down,” Rhem-Westhoff said. “Some people say signs don't work, but Ferrysburg has deer-crossing signs — and during high deer migration times, those signs will blink.”

She said the reminder is effective.

“People get used to seeing a sign year-round, but for it to blink during key migration times adds that extra cognitive reminder,” she said.

Rhem-Westhoff, who founded Defenders of Urban Wildlife several years ago to help protect the local deer population, noted there is a slight curve in the roadway on the south side of the Lloyd's Bayou Bridge and it may be difficult for motorists to spot the turtles before it is too late.

Read the complete story in Saturday’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

Comments

SCH39339

Human being or turtle, please read the Canadian woman who killed two people because of her driving (stopped her car to move ducks).

Riverside

Turtle soup tonight paw paw!

"Shelby Stanga"

Robtownredneck

The turtles are a little late this year, as is all wildlife due to the hard winter and cold spring. We normaly see peak nesting around June 6 this year it was around the 15th. I will stop well off the side of the road and save the box turtles. I think I moved 3 or 4 last week. One had been hit and the shell damaged in 2 places. I put him/her in a safe place on some land I own and it was gone the next morning. As has been discussed in other areas people are distracted while driving. Few people whatch the road anymore. Once the egg laying is done , another week or so the turtles will stay put in a safer place. I do agree far to many have been slaughtered by careless motorist. All wildlife desurve our respect.

SLNativeSince1864

Turtles need to quit texting while crossing the road and pay attention.... I occasionally stop and help a turtle along, providing the conditions are safe for me to pull over. Be careful about relocating turtles to a different area. Turtles are familiar with the territory they roam, and it can harm them if moved to other areas that they're not familiar with. I wonder how many turtles the township slaughtered while clearing brush in that area.

dyankee

Perhaps, these turtles are being chased by bees and they're simply, panicking in their reactions of one in their shell.

Zegota

If this was not so serious, it would be funny. However, maybe where the local police departments have failed in controlling speeding, the turtles can, way to go turtles, hope you win.

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