The Lone Survivor?

Posted on April 24th, 2017 at 1:32 PM

Christopher E. Smith and I got back to my house last night after being in Kansas for a few days. I took him out to the sand ridge to show him the progress that is being made, and afterwards, decided to swing by another sand prairie to look for Tiger Beetles, and Fragile Prickly Pear Cactus. In 2012, I had found five Ornate Box Turtles on the property, gathered around a small depression filled with water. Soon after that, Jim Scharosch started a cover board survey on the site, and in the years following found four dead turtles, and no live ones. I had been on the site a number of times as well since 2012, and also found no turtles, live or dead.

When Chris and I arrived today, we found that the county had burned part of the property, and that should make finding things much easier. We started to head to the general area where the cactus was, but on the way over, I noticed a familiar sight in the sand, and yelled out "That's a turtle form!" It was freshly excavated, and looked like the turtle had used it the night before. We switched gears from looking for the cactus, and started looking for the turtle. We worked North around a small dune, and flipped some of Jim's cover boards. On the way back south, I was scanning all around, not just looking at my feet, but also as far out as I could see ground. As we got back closer to the area where the form was, I saw a dome about twenty feet away from me. I clapped my hands, and yelled "Sweet!", or maybe some other words of excitement that included profanity, and ran over to check out the turtle.

For all we know, this is the last turtle on the property. It is a female, so hopefully there is a male left there as well. We found a lot of cool things in Kansas, but this was actually the highlight of the last few days for me.