Eastern Box Turtle of Occuquan

Help Save My Life on the Wildlife Refuge

It is that time of year again I am out of hibernation and now roaming my backyard where I live in Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.  Last year my sisters, brothers and species were killed by vehicles that are allowed to traverse trails in the "Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge" where I live. I try to stay away from people but somehow they find me.  

I am an endangered species, slow-moving, and who like you - enjoy the sunlight.  I need the sun to regulate my temperature and each year my species are faced with many perils in life.  If  I am lucky I may live to be 100 years old, but those long-lived years are fast disappearing.  Most people today never even see me the Tortoise because I am so rare in nature, but you may see me as road kill, crushed under your car's tire.   My range is small and I don't require much just an understanding I am alive and here on Occoquan living. My survival depends on the actions of knowledgeable people to inform the ignorance. This year, 2018 I hope I survive to bear my offspring for many generations, and as you walk through the refuge you may see me forging.  

Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge PLEASE restrict non-necessary automotive traffic on trails, my life depends on this.

Shortcut to Information:

HELP SAVE MY LIFE! If you are reading this and live in northern Virginia - send the Occoquan Wildlife Refuge an email and ask they Please do NOT ALLOW TRAFFIC on grassy outer trails during March - Jul due to turtles mating and laying eggs in these areas. While the mighty Eagle area is totally off limits. but the poor turtles face the onslaught of vehicular traffic that is allowed on the foot trails,  as important are the Eagles safety so deserves the Tortoise's respect and safety as well - all creatures equal, feathered, scaled or shelled.

The Box Turtle Pictured is approximately 16 years of age, her name is Rose and she has lived in the Occoquan Wildlife Refuge her entire life, responsible for many generations of Box Turtles.  Today, the wildlife refuge allows autos to traverse through the grassy areas where these endangered Tortoises live, NOT conducive to their survival..  Autos and slow-moving Turtles don't mix.  In 2016 as many as 4 turtles crushed to death from April ~ July in the areas of the Wildlife Refuge park, all the while eagles are sanctioned and everyone was forbidden to approach. Why are Turtles less considered even though they are in greater endangered status? I plea for them as a valued asset to us, when these animals are gone we ultimately mark a notch to our own demise. You have control over a closed off environment. FORBID traffic NOW and let these animals do what they need to do.

Need your help! Social Media Works. Help influence change to not allow the drive through the park policy between April ~ Jul. 

Occoquan Bay Wildlife Refuge issues "special permits" for autos to travel around the park during turtle mating seasons, CRUSHING the turtles - Put a stop to this!!  No AUTOS during March - July on grassy trails!

A sad fact is on their website it shows a Tortoise (plan your visit)- hopefully, this tortoise can move FAST.

This is just one of several crushed in spring of  2016: This Lady who was crushed by the Parks rules..  I came across 4 Eastern Box Tortoise that were crushed to death by CARS in this Wildlife Refuge park in 2016, This is sad  NEGLECT by the staff that manages this refuge,. While so much effort is expended to restrict access in and around the nesting eagles, Nothing is done for the poor turtles (Eastern Box Tortoises in particular), which are in Tier III status, requiring immediate conservation to prevent extinction in the wild. In fact you will more likely encounter many Eagles but may never see one Eastern Box Tortoise in the wild in your lifetime, 

The Easter Box tortoise is secretive and active in the spring months into the summer months,  Fact is The leading cause of death of the Easter Box Tortoise is via man man mechanization such as the auto, mowers, and other machinery.

Wonderful Eastern Box Tortoise - The photo here is a female Eastern who lives in a "protected" wildlife refugee.  Protected is in air quotes, because there really is no protection as long as the park allows autos to traverse through the areas the Eastern Box Tortoise inhabits. The Tortoise faces the same perils just as all other slow moving land dwellers - being crushed by cars.  Yes, this Wildlife refugee allows car traffic to drive through areas even during the breeding season. Although they section off the Eagles Breeding Trees, but for the poor Tortoise, cars are allowed to CRUSH them due to poor management and oversight of the park in general, and not only are Eastern Box Turtles crushed but any creature too slow to move out of the path of the auto.  

River Turtles come out during the season to lay eggs, and are crushed,  Babies who are born are crushed, all the while the park provides access and allows automobiles in these areas during turtle mating and egg laying seasons.

If you are a Wild Life Refugee - Be That. 

Here is the fourth victim of allowing traffic in the Refugee. 

If you are the Management for the North  VA Wildlife Refugee - Take note. You allowed the demise of many generations of land and river turtles due to your careless management.

Photographer's Notes

Don't Let Another Turtle be CRUSHED, they deserve respect.

  • Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Sport
  • Nikkor 400mm f/2.8 ED FL VR
Camera Body
  • Nikon D500
Author: TrueToad
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Categories: The Photography BlogNumber of views: 5851



I live at the edge of the forest in semi-moist locations, I enjoy larva, and other delights. Although I am toothless and mostly warty, I am a sight to see.

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1 comments on article "Eastern Box Turtle of Occuquan"

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9/17/2017 3:54 PM

I only saw two Easterns this year in 2017 where normally I see 6, but hopefully, the remaining families here have not been crushed.

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