Laughing Brook Hosts Family Friendly Nature Celebration
Unbeknownst to most of us, the nearby bogs of the Berkshires are the perfect habitat for a very precious and endangered species, the bog turtle! One of ten species of turtles found in Massachusetts, the perfect habitat for this tiny rare turtle can be found in the naturally alkaline wet patches of field and meadow across the westernmost portion of our region. Families can learn more about this and other species of testudines by engaging in community-based opportunities for hands-on learning about habitat conservation and species preservation.
Bog turtles are not exclusive to western Massachusetts. They can, in fact, be found as far south as Georgia, but local populations are nevertheless endangered. The closet turtle populations to those in the Berkshires are located 250 miles away, a separation that has been caused by land development. As a result, local bog turtles are genetically isolated – a fact that, when combined with habitat loss and other factors, puts them in danger. Luckily, researchers from The Nature Conservancy have worked to study and monitor bog turtle populations using turtle-mounted radio transmitters.
Families can honor the bog turtle by observing World Turtle Day, an annual event created by American Tortoise Rescue on Saturday, May 23rd. With ten native turtle species and one naturalized species, western Massachusetts is a fantastic place to celebrate and learn about turtles! In fact, Laughing Brook Wildlife Sanctuary’s annual Turtle and Pond Day happens to fall on this year’s World Turtle Day. Families can visit the sanctuary to explore the wetlands and learn about both turtles and vernal pool life. There will be a live turtle to visit, turtle games, and a turtle craft – carrying the theme of local species through multiple modes of learning (and fun!). Additionally, older participants at the event (adults and teens) can learn how to help protect local turtle species, which is especially important this time of year as many females are laying eggs.
Registration is required for the free events offered at Turtle and Pond Day. Families can either register online or by calling 413-584-3009. Laughing Brook Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Hampden.
[Photo credit: (cc) U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region]