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AHH 24-Hr. News

Swatting Hoax in Keyport
Monday, 20 April 2015
KEYPORT, NJ - An anonymous caller to Keyport Police at 1:37 p.m. Sunday afternoon stated that he had stabbed a female and was holding another person hostage at a residence.  The male caller said he would kill the hostages and any responding... Read More...
IMAGE Former Mayor Helen Marchetti Celebrates Her 90th With Flair
Monday, 20 April 2015
PHOTO: Helen Marchetti celebrates with friends at her 90th birthday party.  Photo courtesy Tracey Abby-White. ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, NJ -  In her typical fashion and with her usual flair, former Mayor Helen Marchetti threw a party for herself... Read More...
Care One Care Center Honors Volunteers
Monday, 20 April 2015
Care One Center honors volunteers MIDDLETOWN, NJ – More than 50 volunteers and organizations were honored at the annual Volunteer Reception at the Care One Care Center on Route 36 at a gala wine and hors d’oeuvres reception in the Center Dining... Read More...
IMAGE Bayshore Pharmacy Among Top Three National Finalists
Monday, 20 April 2015
ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, NJ - Bayshore Pharmacy, the family owned business in the Foodtown Shopping Center on Route 36, is one of three top finalists in the country to be selected as the Pharmacy of the Year. The nomination and selection are made by the... Read More...
No Dunes or Beach Access Required for Monmouth County Beach Project
Saturday, 18 April 2015
TRENTON, NJ - The DEP and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will launch two major coastal construction projects Friday for Cape May and Monmouth counties. The Monmouth County project will make improvements coastal protection structures in the area of... Read More...

Columns

IMAGE Fish Hawks Make a Home in NY Harbor
by Joe Reynolds
Monday, 20 April 2015
Come April, all life begins to stir, speed, shuffle, and move. It’s a time of resurrections and returns.  There is an urgent need for many... Read More...
IMAGE Review - While We're Young
by David Prown
Saturday, 18 April 2015
So I hadn't been to the movies in several weeks found a time slot and "While We're Young" filled the slot. I was not excited to see this Ben... Read More...
IMAGE Carolinian with Bipolar Disorder Had Success
by Daniel J. Vance
Saturday, 18 April 2015
According to the National Institutes of Health, bipolar disorder (formerly manic-depressive illness) is a “brain disorder causing unusual shifts in... Read More...
IMAGE Return of the Brownshirts
by Woody Zimmerman
Friday, 17 April 2015
In the 1930s, gangs of brown-shirted street thugs smashed Jewish shop-windows, terrorized voters at the polls, and generally raised hell all across... Read More...
IMAGE Skewed View - April 17, 2015
by Tom Brennan
Friday, 17 April 2015
The second thing should do before starting a carjacking business is learn how to drive a stick: http://bit.ly/1H2BdkM What's worse than losing your... Read More...

Upcoming Events

Wed Apr 22 @ 7:00PM -
AH Council Meeting
Thu Apr 23 @ 7:30PM -
Find Edsell!: Book-Signing
Fri Apr 24 @12:00AM
Memorial Tree Planting for Bill Phillips
Sat Apr 25 @10:00AM - 02:00PM
Middletown Collecting Unwanted Medication
Wed Apr 29 @ 7:00PM -
The Bible in Context - 6 wk. Seminar

joe_reynoldsI live in a small, quiet suburban town in New Jersey called Atlantic Highlands. It is situated along the shores of Sandy Hook Bay and found downstream from the hustle and bustle of lower Manhattan in New York City.

It was a hot, sunny Sunday afternoon with a mild breeze a few weeks ago that I uncovered a bombshell in this quiet community. I was outside clearing away the invasive Oriental Bittersweet from my backyard. With a pair of clippers in my hands, I was cutting back the bittersweet in a wooded corner of my property under a few Sassafras trees and near several large Mountain Laurel bushes when I spotted something strange. It was a small critter with a yellow-orange and tan shell on the ground. What the heck was this?

Looking closely, it turned out not to be one but two critters. Less than 10 feet away from me were a pair of Eastern Box Turtles mating. They were getting intimate on top of a pile of decaying leaves. What a shocker! I had to look twice to make sure I was seeing this scene correctly.

While a person's first reaction might be to snicker and sneer at the thought of a male and female Box Turtle getting it on in an individual's backyard, this was in fact a big deal to me. I mean come on, here was a real act of wild nature going on not far from my house. The ultimate celebration of life in the middle of suburbia!

box_turtles_1

I remember as a kid growing up near Barnegat Bay in South Jersey and finding quite a few Box Turtles. During the summer, I would notice them in nearby woodlands feeding on berries. Inevitably, one or two would find their way near my home. My parents would always enjoy the sight of seeing Box Turtles, but would never let me keep one as a pet. It was always best to keep wild animals wild I was told.

Many years later that good advice comes back to me. Stay back and do not touch the turtles. Let them be.

The sight of a breeding pair of Box Turtles is even more important today when you take into account that this radiant reptile is listed as a "species of special concern" by the NJ State Endangered and Nongame Species Program. Though not endangered, wildlife biologists consider the Box Turtle likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future. Despite the fact that Box Turtles are well known, their population is sadly declining throughout New Jersey.

The reasons for a diminishing Box Turtle population are many. First and foremost, though, is habitat destruction. Many roads now slice through once dense forested land. The demise of large tracts of woodlands due to over-development and poor planning has caused many Box Turtles to become isolated from a variety of food sources and potential mates.

According to the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, Box Turtles have very small home rangers. Their homeland is around 250 square yards or less. If a Box Turtle is removed from their territory and placed in an unfamiliar site, they may die while trying to find their way back home. Numerous Box Turtles die every year trying to cross roads in search of food, a mate, or trying to get back home. Box Turtles are diurnal, so they are most active during daylight hours when vehicle traffic is high.

box_turtles_2

Box Turtles are also highly sought after as pets. Lots of people seek out wild Box Turtles and illegally collect them for use as a pet or sell them for profit to local pet stores.

Even though Box Turtles can live up to 20 years in the wild, this native reptile is quickly becoming scarce primarily because these threats have put an enormous amount of stress on the species. What's more, the turtles are slow to reproduce because of the many obstacles they face in the wild. Box Turtles become sexual active at four to five years of age. The mating season begins in the spring and continues throughout summer to October, the time of year when many people are most active outdoors as well.

No doubt then, seeing a pair of boxies mating is my backyard was about the coolest thing I'd ever set my eyes on near my house. Despite all the obstacles, the need to breed was strong in this pair.

If all goes well, the female will deposit eggs in a hole by the end of the month. Eggs are laid in June and July. Females lay between 2 to 7 eggs in loose or sandy soil and sometimes even in lawns. Most hatching occurs in September. The next generation of Box Turtles will have gotten their start here in my backyard, not far the shores of Sandy Hook Bay, and located downstream from New York City.

For all its beauty and peacefulness, Box Turtles are no match for the destructive powers of humans. Here are some quick and easy ways you can help protect the Eastern Box Turtle from becoming endangered:

- Never remove a turtle from the wild.

- Never relocate a turtle in the wild, unless you see one trying to cross a road.  Help a turtle cross a road only if you can do so safely, and be sure to point it in the same direction that it was headed.

- Never return a pet turtle or rescued turtle to the wild, as they often contain viruses or bacteria that can do damage to a wild turtle population.

- Educate friends and family about the importance of observing – but not touching, disturbing or collecting – turtles in the wild.


For more information, pictures and year-round sightings of wildlife in or near Sandy Hook Bay, please check out my blog entitled, Nature on the Edge of New York City at http://natureontheedgenyc.blogspot.com/