Woman Lends a Helping Hand to Massachusetts Turtles

One Resident's Efforts Could Lead to Preservation of a Declining Species

Field & Stream Online Editors

In Lost Lake, Massachusetts, a spin-off of the old joke, "Why did the chicken cross the road," has emerged: "How did the turtle cross the road?"

The answer: Virginia Bennett, but she's not joking around.

According to the Groton Landmark, over the past weeks, motorists in the Lost Lake area have noticed Bennett parked off to the sides of roads in her red SUV where she waits to help any turtles she spots attempting to dodge the heavy traffic. "Ever since I was a little girl, I've always liked [BRACKET "turtles"]," says Bennett, a member of Turtles Alive and Well, a group of wetlands supporters and enthusiasts. "They're fascinating creatures. I try to rescue them."

Bennett says she has been especially busy with her rescue work in June as the female turtles recently emerged from hibernation and are now looking for places to lay their eggs--places that often exist on the other side of the road. She adds that when the victim of a speedy Goodyear is a pregnant female, a single death could have a severe impact on the turtle population.

Bennett's humble efforts as turtle crossing guard might also contribute to the survival of a potentially endangered specie. Researchers recently began work in Lost Lake after they located specimens of Blanding's turtles in the region. Although not officially listed as endangered, Bennett says the population of Blanding's turtles has become scarce over the years due to the spread of human habitation in wetland areas.

From Harley riders to big rig drivers, Bennett says her efforts have been welcomed and appreciated by plenty of motorists. Because Bennett knows she can't save all of the turtles, she offers advice to local residents. "Slow down near wetlands," she told the Landmark. "And if you spot a crossing turtle, give it a hand."