PHONE: (313) 593-5518
DATE: July 11, 2005
Turtle's eggs are a sign of health at UM-Dearborn campus garden
DEARBORN---Tomatoes aren't the only things that grow well in the community
on the campus of the University of Michigan-Dearborn. A Blanding's
Turtle laid more than a dozen eggs in one of the garden's plots early
After being found in the garden, the eggs were gathered by David
Mifsud, a biologist who has a scientific collector's permit from the
Michigan Department of Natural Resources to gather animals and their eggs
that are threatened by predators or human activities.
In the case of the Blanding's Turtle, their eggs are often destroyed
by raccoons and other animals, and adult specimens are sometimes taken
from natural settings to be sold for pets. Blanding's Turtles are found
throughout the Great Lakes region, are primarily aquatic and their shells
can grow to nearly a foot across.
While not endangered, Blanding's Turtles have been identified as a special
concern for wildlife biologists because of an apparent decline in their
population in recent years.
"So that's why we want to take efforts to ensure that they'll be
protected," Mifsud said. He will keep the eggs in a safe environment
until they hatch, and return them to the natural areas on campus later
this year or early next year. Mifsud earned a master's degree in environmental
science from UM-Dearborn in 2004, and is employed as a wetland stewardship
coordinator with the community group Friends of the Rouge, which has its
office on the UM-Dearborn campus.
"The fact that this turtle is thriving here is a good measure of
the environment on campus," according to Rick Simek, supervisor in
Interpretive Center. "We have a range of healthy habitats for
turtles to grow to maturity and lay their eggs for the next generation."