Some members of my family still laugh at me for this one – and I may have told the story before - but one-time years ago, not long after getting my driver’s license, I came across a turtle crossing a rural two-lane at a turtle’s pace and stopped my car, got out, and walked over to the poor fella with a plan to get him out of harm’s way.
But when I reached down to grab that monstrosity, it tried to take my fingers off, propelling itself into the air and snapping at me with cruel intentions.
I jumped back and shrieked in horror as it cranked its ugly head in my direction with disdain in its eyes.
At that point I reached back down, picked the turtle up and drop kicked it into the woods.
I didn’t really. That would be mean. I actually ran back into my car, got in, and sped away in horror.
But suffice it to say, I’ve never tried that stunt again. In fact, I go out of my way to avoid them. Last summer I saw one swimming across a bay in Lake Vermilion. All you could see was the head and this huge outline under the surface of the water.
I ran that thing over as quickly as I could.
Again, kidding. I would never do that, and neither should you.
The memory of my one and only close up contact with a snapping turtle came back to me recently as I’ve see quite a few turtles on the sides of roads as of late.
And according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, this is the time of year when motorists are going to see more of them out and about as they travel to and from their nests.
Their advice is to watch out for them and whenever possible, allow them to cross the road.
According to the DNR, each year at this time, many female turtles move from lakes, ponds, wetlands, rivers and streams to nesting areas. They are looking for suitable locations to deposit their eggs.
Many nesting areas are a significant distance from turtles’ wintering areas. As they attempt to cross roads, moving at a turtle’s pace, many are hit and killed by cars. Roadway mortality is believed to be a major factor in turtle population declines throughout the United States.
“Wildlife rehabilitators have noticed an increase this year in turtles brought in with cracked shells after being struck by cars,” said DNR herpetologist Carol Hall. “Turtles pre-date dinosaurs by millions of years, and they’ve outlasted them. But, if we want them to be around into the future, we should lend a hand.”
Helping turtles safely cross roads can help preserve Minnesota’s turtles, Hall said, providing a few pointers like not putting yourself or others in danger. Simply pulling off the road and turning on hazard lights to alert drivers to slow down is one way to do it.
She also suggests allowing unassisted road crossings. I’m going to have to go ahead and agree with that one. This is information I could have used those many years ago.
•Hall says when turtles can safely cross roads unaided due to a lack of oncoming traffic, allow them to do so. Observe from a distance and avoid rapid movements, as doing otherwise will often cause turtles to change direction, stop, or seek shelter within their shells.
•If it’s necessary to pick them up, all turtles except snappers and softshells (also known as leatherbacks) should be grasped gently along the shell edge near the mid-point of the body.
•If it is a snapping turtle or softshell turtle, the DNR says a person should try to use a car mat and pull it across the road.
•Many turtles empty their bladder when lifted off the ground (sort of like I almost did when that beast tried to take my arm off), so be careful not to drop them if they should suddenly expel liquid. Avoid excessive handling that can disrupt turtle behavior.
•Maintain direction of travel. Always move turtles in the same direction they were traveling when encountered. Turtles should always be moved across roadways in as direct a line as possible.
Anglers have set new Minnesota state records for whitefish and golden redhorse.
The Minnesota DNR certified a record 13-pound, nine-ounce whitefish caught by an Oklahoma angler ice fishing on Lake of the Woods, and a four-pound, 13-ounce golden redhorse caught by an angler who beat his own state record.
The DNR certifies state record fish in two categories: for fish caught and kept; and for caught and released northern pike, muskellunge, lake sturgeon and flathead catfish.
The Oklahoma angler, Billy King, was getting an introduction to Minnesota ice fishing with two other anglers April 6. They were catching walleye, sauger, and tulibee, and in the evening were fishing near a sandbar for the sunset walleye bite on Lake of the Woods.
Despite the others initially catching more fish, King stuck to his spot on the ice and was rewarded with not only the biggest walleye of the day, but soon after, the huge whitefish.
“This turned out to be the trip of a lifetime and I have to say that everyone was so nice.
Not just in relation to the potential new state record but everyone was so polite and welcoming. It made the trip all the more enjoyable,” King said.
Ethan Rasset – already a state record holder for golden redhorse – was fishing for redhorse March 24 on the Otter Tail River with a friend from college.
Rasset caught the record four-pound, 13-ounce fish with a chartreuse curly-tail artificial lure, on a shallow flat with rubble that had produced a few smaller golden redhorse earlier in the morning.
His previous record was a 4-pound, 8-ounce golden redhorse he caught in April 2018 on the Otter Tail River. Rasset said he was quite excited when he suspected he may have broken his own record.
“Very few people can say they have broken a state record twice!” Rasset said.
Current records and information about how to submit documentation for a record fish are available at mndnr.gov/recordfish.