Living in the relative abundance of the Flint Hills, it is common to see wildlife. Within a mile radius, and often on my property, I have seen swans, hawks, kestrels, night jars, eagles, fox, bob cat, coyote, a collard lizard, several species of snakes including a dying rattlesnake, a variety of wild plants and unusual insects. And ornate box turtles. I see turtles in the roads mostly, but after my hay "barn" was in place and filled with hay, I found a poor little turtle trying to find her way through the tightly stacked hay. I had to pick her up and reroute her to the side of the barn. The barn must have been built across her route. I do not know her destination but she was determined to find a way through an impossible obstacle for which I was wholly responsible. I felt a significant pang of guilt. And I wonder if the little land turtles are like the sea turtles and must return to their birthplace to lay their eggs. That would explain why they risk their gentle, silent lives crossing the thousands of miles of American roads where countless of them die.
Friday was a red letter day: two turtles rescued crossing the road on my way to work. The first one was a male. He had red eyes and handsome red markings on his legs. The only defense the poor little guy had was to pee. I have been picking up turtles my entire life so I know to watch out for turtle urine! I try to make relocation as quick and gentle as possible, but it has to be a frightening experience for such a defenseless creature. He was stunned and would not move even after I set him carefully in the grass at the edge of the road. Hopefully, soon after my car drove away he continued his trek.
About 2 miles later I skidded to a halt so I could move a very small female. She was just starting the dangerous crossing and I almost missed her amid the gravel. She saw me coming and shifted into high turtle speed and continued to "run" even as I carefully lifted her to the other side of the road, safely off the shoulder. I feel badly that they are terrified by the move, but it is better than being crushed. It is far better to have the pee scared out of you than being mortally wounded to die a slow death after glancing off the tires of a vehicle.