Vermont Fish and Wildlife’s annual spiny softshell turtle beach cleanup day is Saturday, October 16, and the department is looking for volunteers to help. Participants are asked to arrive at North Hero State Park at 10:00 a.m. After finishing at North Hero, the group will carpool to another site in Swanton.
Volunteers will pull up vegetation on nesting beaches to prepare turtle nesting sites for next year. They may also find a few hatchlings that occasionally remain in nests underground this late in the year. In addition to threatened spiny softshell turtles, these nest sites are also used by map turtles, painted turtles and snapping turtles.
Vermont Fish and Wildlife biologist Toni Mikula will have hatchling spiny softshell and other turtles on hand and will talk about the long-term turtle recovery efforts. Some of these hatchling turtles will be raised in captivity by the ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain while they are small and most vulnerable to predation. They will be released back into Lake Champlain next spring.
“This is a great way to help conserve threatened wildlife right here in Vermont,” said Mikula. “It’s also a fun way to learn more about the turtles and to see some recently-hatched baby turtles.”
Participants are asked to dress in layers of warm clothes and to bring water, work gloves, a leaf rake, short-handled tools such as trowels, and their own lunch. Families and kids are welcome. The cleanup may run until 4:00 p.m., although participants can choose how long to assist.
“This has turned into a very popular annual event for people interested in conservation,” added Mikula. “We’re always glad to see so many people care about wildlife.”
To get to North Hero State Park, follow Route 2 north past Carry Bay in North Hero. Take a right on Lakeview Drive, just before Route 2 swings west toward Alburgh. Follow Lakeview Drive almost to the end until you reach the North Hero State Park entrance sign on the left. Drive to the end of the road always bearing right.
For more information, please contact Toni at Toni.Mikula@vermont.gov.
This event is outdoors and there is enough space for social distancing. Hand sanitizer will be provided. Some hand tools will be provided but attendees are also encouraged to bring their own.