Be There When Lightning Strikes

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Snapping turtle rescued, moved to a new home

A 20-pound snapping turtle moved to the country. A 20-pound snapping turtle moved to the country.

Maybe she was hunting for a place to nest. Big rain Tuesday night might have driven her out of Wash Creek. For whatever reason "Jeffy" the snapping turtle was on a slow journey away from her habitat, on unfamiliar ground, endanger of being run over.

 


Jeff Miller, the downtown drycleaners proprietor and city councilman, was walking his dog Thursday morning when he spotted her on Third Avenue West near Valley Street. Whoa, he said. He was not about to try moving her himself. He called the cops.
City police dispatched Sgts. Jimmy Case and Robert Merz.
Merz had handled one other turtle call.
"I had one crawl out of the swamp on U.S. 64," he said. "I tried to catch her and she chased me back up the hill. I'm always real careful because their mouth can about reach all the way back to their tail. You have to grab them all the way in the back."
Merz and Case figured the county animal shelter didn't have aquatic accommodations but they knew who did.
"I loaded her in the back of the patrol car," Merz said. "We called Mrs. Ramer."
That would be B.J. Ramer, who runs the ECCO Aquarium on Main Street.
"I wanted to make sure it got in the right place," Merz said. "I thought if I just drove up and put it in somebody's lake they wouldn't be too happy with me. Not everybody wants a 20-pound snapping turtle."
After the turtle lodged overnight at ECCO, Ramer and volunteers Kortney Clark, Sarah Facey and Katlyn Kanupp loaded Jeffy in a truck and carried her to a pond south of town. (Ramer was the one who named the rescued animal Jeffy.)
Ramer was able to sex the turtle by looking under her tail. She estimated she was 20 to 30 years old but thought she could still lay eggs.
"The last snapping turtle we had laid 54 eggs," she said. Like Sgt. Merz, she knew to be cautious in handling the animal. "Her jaws are big enough that she'd tear your fingers off," she said. The saying is that once a turtle snaps, it won't turn loose until lightning strikes, which, Ramer noted, made it helpful that the Lightning was in fact present.
A curious Canada goose swam up to check out the rescue party and its new pond occupant. Ramer and the girls tipped the tub into the murky water. Formerly a city dweller, Jeffy immediately submerged, free in her big new home.