Our turtle population is doing well. I photographed the Sonora Mud Turtle at top left in 2014 and the others today (March 18, 2017). Four of them were basking on one log, but I couldn’t get the shot–perhaps tomorrow.
The turtle at top right is also a Sonora Mud Turtle, but I’m not sure about the two below. All of them are too wary to approach closely. I made these shots with a Nikon Coolpix P510 with the 42x lens fully extended. I’ll update this post if I learn more.
Turtles at Coldwater Farm
Arizona has only six native turtle species and three recognized subspecies. A southern Arizona subspecies of the Sonora Mud Turtle (Kinosternon sonoriense longifemorale) is of critical concern and may soon be added to the U. S. Endangered Species List (or not, sad). All of Arizona’s native and five introduced species are in danger from human activities. Full list with conservation status.
GR: Turtles are resistant to toxic wastes, but they are helpless against water diversions, hunters, and pet collectors. In my home state, wildlife biologists have registered concerns for survival of all ten native species and the five introduced species (https://garryrogers.com/2013/11/08/arizona-turtle).
Source: www.reuters.com – The U.S. government has proposed adding four types of freshwater turtles to an international endangered species list, in part to better monitor exports of the species, whose meat is considered a delicacy in Asia.
“Turtles are well known for their longevity and protective shells, but it turns out these reptiles use sound to stick together and care for young, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society and other organizations.
“Scientists working in the Brazilian Amazon have found that Giant South American river turtles actually use several different kinds of vocal communication to coordinate their social behaviors, including one used by female turtles to call to their newly hatched offspring in what is the first instance of recorded parental care in turtles.
“The study appears in a recent edition of the journal Herpetologica. The authors are: Camila Ferrara of the Wildlife Conservation Society; Richard C. Vogt of the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas de Amazônia, and the Associação de Ictiólogos e Herpetólogos da Amazônia; Renata S Sousa-Lima of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Bruno M.R. Tardio of the Instituto Chico Mendez; and Virginia Campos Diniz Bernardes of the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas de Amazônia, and the Associação de Ictiólogos e Herpetólogos da Amazônia.
“These distinctive sounds made by turtles give us unique insights into their behavior, although we don’t know what the sounds mean,” said Dr. Camila Ferrara, Aquatic Turtle Specialist for the WCS Brazil Program. “The social behaviors of these reptiles are much more complex than previously thought.”
Comments sought on reptile, raptor, amphibian and mollusk regulations
Rocky Mountain Toad
(This information is from a June 6, 2014 Email from AZGFD.)
The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) is seeking public comments on draft 2015-2016 regulations for reptiles, raptors, crustaceans and mollusks, and amphibians. You may comment from June 6 through July 11, 2014.
The Rocky Mountain Toad in the photo is not imperiled, but how does someone justify killing or capturing 10 (the proposed limit)?..
(GR: The regulations apply to species that the AZGFD itself considers imperiled and critically imperiled. Permitting killing and capturing will only increase the likelihood of extinction. For example, the regulations allow all licensed hunters to capture or kill four (4) Rosy Boas (Lichanura trivirgata), a species considered critically imperiled by AZGFD and “a species of concern” under the U. S. Endangered Species Act. Moreover, killing and capturing wild animals for fun is unethical, cruel, and a violation of animal rights.)
Special: The proposed changes being considered for the 2015-2016 commission orders include:
In Commission Order 25, a reduced bag limit for the nonresident peregrine falcon hunt, adjustment of the hunt units for ferruginous hawks, and clarification of peregrine falcon harvest capture age.
In Commission Order 43, a reduced bag limit for Sonora mud turtle from four to two (possession limit remains the same), and changing “Limited Weapon” season to “Limited Weapon Hand or Hand-held Implement” season, which opens more of the state to traditional means of hunting reptiles.
To see the draft commission orders for most species, click the following links:
The second edition of my “Arizona Wildlife Notebook” will be off to the printer (CreateSpace) as soon as I finish the cover. This edition has introductions and checklists for 12 groups of Arizona animal species: Amphibians, ants, bats, birds, butterflies and moths, dragonflies and damselflies, fish, grasshoppers, lizards, mammals, snakes, and turtles. Groups in bold type are new to the Notebook. The introduction to each group covers the group’s conservation issues and provides references for printed and online field guides. The checklist for each group includes scientific and common names and conservation status. I alphabetized each checklist by scientific name, and I included an index for all the common names. Continue reading →
I have completed the second edition of the Arizona Wildlife Notebook! The new Notebook has four more species groups than the first edition, and it has an expanded index. The most important change is in the conservation status for each species. This time, I standardized the information so that future changes will be easier to track. Continue reading →
Turtles have exceptional regenerative powers. Dr. Justin Congdon, a classmate from long ago, managed a study of turtles in the E. S. George Reserve in Michigan for more than 40 years. In the 1980’s Justin made a startling discovery: As they aged, Blanding’s turtles produced more eggs and offspring. In some ways, the turtles became younger as they aged. This reversal of reproductive success with age drew global attention from scientists and others interested in longevity and life extension.
Another interesting trait is resistance to toxic materials. Arizona fish, frogs, and mollusks develop various forms of cancer in response to toxic chemicals in agricultural and urban runoff, and treated waste-water. Turtles do not. Like other species groups, however, Arizona turtles suffer from habitat loss and human harvest.
The pond slider (Trachemys scripta) in the photograph is not an Arizona native. It probably arrived as a pet sold by the roadside vendor who comes every summer and sells turtles at a highway intersection upstream from my ponds. There are at least two pond sliders living here. If humans wouldn’t empty the ponds, the pond slider might live at Coldwater Farm long after I’m gone.
(Just after I wrote the above, a visitor harvesting weeds for his sheep, accidentally backed his truck over the pond slider shown in the photograph, killing it instantly.) Continue reading →
“Baby animals you see are probably not orphans; parents are usually nearby.”
Wildlife Rescue in Arizona is licensed by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Visit the AZGFD website for a list with contact information and taxa treated. A second list includes other animal charities in Arizona. Find more information from local veterinarians and animal control departments of local governments.
These organizations provide additional information:
Divest: Withdraw Investments from Harmful Companies
A few dozen companies cause most of the world’s social and environmental problems. They lobby and bribe our elected officials, they influence our regulatory agencies, and they profit from our labor and the exploitation of Earth’s resources.