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AHH 24-Hr. News

IMAGE AHHerald is Online and Serving News
Monday, 30 March 2015
WE ARE BACK!   ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS - The Atlantic Highlands Herald, the nation's first online newspaper, was knocked offline last week, the victim of a Distributed Denial of Service attack.  A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is... Read More...
IMAGE Celtic Tribute 5K Benefit Run to be Held in Memory of Fallen Officers
Monday, 30 March 2015
Long Branch, NJ - On Saturday, April 4, 2015 the Jersey Shore Running Club is proud to bring back and host the 24th running of our Spring 5K run, the Celtic Tribute 5K, on the Long Branch promenade, boardwalk, and great lawn, overlooking the scenic... Read More...
IMAGE Red Bank Police Report - March 30, 2015
Monday, 30 March 2015
Red Bank, NJ - The following police report is provided by the Red Bank Police Department.  All subjects are presumed innocent; unless, and until, proven guilty in a court of law. March 19, 2015 – March 26, 2015 CRIMES: Theft occurring at... Read More...
IMAGE Honoring The Lasting Legacy of Lieutenant Dennis W. Zilinski II
Monday, 30 March 2015
PHOTO: Lieutenant Dennis W. Zilinski II Scholarship Memorial Dinner Dance on May 16 Will Fund Youth Scholarships, Honor Veterans & Preserve Loving Memories Of Fallen Hero MIDDLETOWN, NJ - For the members of Middletown Reformed Church, it... Read More...
MCSPCA Celebrates 21 Years Of Paws Walking For A Cause!
Monday, 30 March 2015
The MONMOUTH COUNTY SPCA ANNOUNCES 21st Annual Spring Dog Walk & Pet Fair Saturday, April 25, 2015 Eatontown, NJ - The Monmouth County SPCA announced today that the 21st annual Spring Dog Walk & Pet Fair is scheduled for Saturday, April 25,... Read More...

Columns

IMAGE Making Homes for Fish Hawks
by Joe Reynolds
Tuesday, 31 March 2015
Like an old fashioned barn raising, about 15 volunteers  with the Bayshore Regional Watershed Council came together on a clear but chilly Sunday... Read More...
IMAGE Of Food Trucks, Boardwalks, and New Development
by Dennis
Monday, 30 March 2015
Summer is just around the corner, and for those who live at the Jersey Shore, that means two things are guaranteed: the mass influx of tourists is... Read More...
IMAGE Clinton's Delusional Defense of Email
by Jack Archibald
Saturday, 21 March 2015
Last week, former Secretary of State and prospective Democrat President nominee Hillary Clinton channeled her inner H.L. Mencken.  By... Read More...
IMAGE Review - McFarland USA
by David Prown
Wednesday, 18 March 2015
It is common knowledge that I'm a big fan of true sports movies regarding stories that are under the radar and rarely been told. So when I started... Read More...
IMAGE Musings from a Migraneur
by Anne Mikolay
Tuesday, 17 March 2015
I've suffered from migraines for so many years, by now I ought to understand how they work. I don't. In fact, though one might consider me the... Read More...

Upcoming Events

Fri Apr 03 @ 2:00PM - 07:00PM
Income Tax Help - Union Beach
Wed Apr 08 @ 1:00PM -
NARFE Meets
Wed Apr 08 @ 7:00PM -
AH Council Meeting
Thu Apr 09 @ 7:30PM -
AH Unified Planning Board Meeting
Fri Apr 10 @ 2:00PM - 07:00PM
Income Tax Help - Union Beach

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/