Turtle M6 (Female) is a very old, large (510 gram) female found in the powerline ROW close to M3 (male) on 6/12/09 and tracked, eventually, to her nesting site where she laid 4 eggs. She was lost due to wildlife damage to her transmitter, but was re-found near M1(F) in 2010 near the "South Slope Meeting Area", and was again lost only 2 days later.
M6 was re-found again in 2011 in another "meeting area" located on the ROW corner.
Turtle M9 (Female) Dead was a small (430 gram) female found with M8(m) and M1(f) in the "Tank Rd Meeting Area" on 8/8/09. M9 had a relatively small primary activity area (8.46 acres), but was an active, long distance traveler both within and outside this area.
Her 2009 and 2010 hibernation spots were only about 4 feet apart and the dates only 9 days apart. Her 2011 and 2012 hibernation spots were about 2 feet apart and the dates only 1 day apart.
M9 spent an unusual amount of time at the forest/road edge in the grassy area between the road "mow zone" and woods edge, eating red raspberries and other berries from plants drarfed by years of continuious boom-axing and mowing. She rarely wondered into the open mowed area, and almost never went near the road or shoulder except for the almost annual crossing, traveling to the meadow above the man-made pond where she spent 4 or 5 weeks of the summer before re-crossing the road and spending the remainder of the summer in her primary activity area.
In 2014 and 2015 she did not cross the road to nest as she was normally observed to do, but returned to this behavior in 2016, and was killed by a vehicle while crossing the road. It was a dry, clear, sunny morning on a straight stretch of highway with very little traffic.
M9's death removes an important member of this local population, as a young female having mated with a number of male members and nested over the several years of this study. Turtle M9's death reduces the female/male ratio in the population which was already suffering greatly.
Turtle M8 (Male) Dead was a 445 gram male that was found with turtles M1(F) and M9(F) in the "Tank Rd Meeting Area" on 8/8/09. He had a relatively small activity area of approximately 4.8 acres for most of the years he was tracked.
M8 was a middle aged adult with a primary activity area (which in this case was likely also his home range), that was smaller in area than other comparable adults in this population. But despite his small area of travel (relatively), he was an important member of this population, as he regularly met and mated with many other turtles who traveled into his activity area.
M8 appeared to have expanded his area of travel over the years, including travel to the "South Slope Meeting Area". Turtle M9, M8's primary mating partner was killed in 2016. The following season, M8 moved to the adjacent slope and was found mating with M43(f), also a new find to this slope.
Turtle M8 was found dead in hibernation in the spring of 2019. The cause is unknown.
Turtle M10, an old, large (555 gr) male, was found on 9/12/09 at the "ROW Meeting Area" mating with turtle M4. M10 has a primary activity area of approximately 12.8 acres and travels to M1's south facing slope, to the "South Slope Meeting Area" annually, spending a short time there before returning to his primary activity area where he stays for the remainder of the season and hibernates.
As indicated by looking at 13 years tracking, M10 generally confines his travels to familiar areas and routes. M10's travels include 3 or more "Meeting Area" visits annually, where he is often observed meeting and mating with other turtles.
Turtle M11 (Female) is a 475 gram female who's primary activity area is mostly an open meadow on a high elevation knoll on private land that is maintained in an early successional condition by bush-hogging (mowing).
Consequently, like a clear-cut, the environment is hot and dry and covered with locust, raspberries, bull thistle and other thorny and prickly plants. The open grassy part of the meadow is covered with tiny, wild strawberries that make up M11's diet in the early summer, and stunted raspberries at forest edge mid summer.
M11 consistantly hibernates close to (sometimes within 6 feet of) a paved road near the woods edge in a ditch location exposed to sun and harsh winter weather.
M11 was found in the woods in 2009 mating with Turtle M2, after M2 had traveled a long distance and crossed the road to enter M11's primary activity area.. Turtle M2 was killed by a vehicle while re-crossing the road after mating. Turtle M18, a large old male was found mating with M11 in the meadow every year, at least once, since being found.
Turtle M12 (Male), an old, large male (455gr), has a primary activity area on the south facing slope he shares with M1(f), M6(f), M32(m), and others.
He has never been observed traveling to the ridge tops on either side of the drainage, but often travels to the north facing slope across the ravine in hot weather. M12 has a carapace that is smooth over about 1/3rd of it's surface, and has distinct annuli over the remaining scutes.
M12 chooses different hibernation sites in many years, but also reuses hibernation sites occassioanlly. This turtle's primary activity area measures about 37 acres (13.5 hectares), and in this case this is also his home range. His activity area is mostly steep forest slope, which he shares with several other males and females.
Turtle M9 was killed in 2016 intentionally, by Steven Allen Bryant, a local resident working for the National Park Service as a summer hire, while on duty, in uniform, and while driving a government vehicle. This is not unusual for this part of the country, as these uneducated, uncaring, sociopathic redneck, cowards enjoy the killing of anything and everything that moves, and likely have accounted for a significant number of Box turtle deaths over the years.
Of all the wildlife that can be found using public roads, Box turtles, unlike mammals and birds, don't dart into the road, and can't move fast enough to get off of the road when traffic approaches, and can't quickly rebuild their population numbers when members are removed.
M6 2016 0.8 miles
M6 2017 1.8 miles
The photo map to the left is approximately 350 acres.
M6 2018 1.8 miles
M8 2009 to 2018
M6 2019 1.2 miles
Female M6, is by far the most experienced road crosser of all study turtles. Although she rarely crosses at exactly the same location, her destination in the meadow, in the densely overgrown interior of the loop in the dirt road, is always the same. She has been observed many times with other turtles while in the meadow, who are then radio tagged and tracked as residents. See turtle finding chart here. And turtle mating chart here.
Turtle M6 almost always hibernates in EXACTLY the same 2 stump holes near the ravine bottom, alternating holes year to year. There appears to be little significant appearance differences about this site compared to the rest of the south facing slope, so how she remembers and re-finds the exact spot year after year is not known.
The travel route to the meadow and the return trip not only is a long distance, but also travels up and back down a steep forested slope, and through the dense vegetation of a power line ROW. Until he was found dead in 2016, male turtle M16 was often found at the ROW corner "waiting for" M6 (and M1) after which they were often found mating before M6's road crossing and nesting.
Green Dot = Emergence, Red Dot = Hibernation, Blue Dot = NEW FIND, White Dot = Dead
Turtle M13 (Male) is a large (510 gr) adult male that significantly increased the size of my study area in 2010. He was originally found in the "Tank Road Meeting Area" on 5/15/10, and traveled a very long distance that season. The first large loop, crossing the road twice, ended exactly where it started, and then continued on 2 very long distance trips to a recent clear cut. M13 consistently out-distances his 225 yard thread trailing bobbins between GPS locations. M13 left the clearcut and hibernated in a mixed hardwood-pine forest stand nearby in 2010 and 2011.
M13 traveled a completely unexpected route in 2013, and spent most of the season in the direct (hot) sun in a grassy area of a meadow, and hibernated in the woods nearby.
In 2014, he was tracked from emergence into the meadow where he suddenly disappeared in mid June. He was re-found September 21st across the state highway, re-tagged and tracked for the remainder of the season after re-crossing the road and hibernating in a moist, sheltered draw.
M13 has since become a dedicated ridge resident, dropping down-slope almost to the highway once or twice a season, before climbing back to the ridge top. He is rarely observed mating, or meeting with other males.
After the better part of 3 seasons residing on the ridge top, in August 2020, he decended the slope and crossed the highway, into an area he has never been known to travel. He returned to the ridge-top after about 2 weeks, and was found meeting with turtle M58(M). M13 hibernated only a few feet from his 2019 HIB location.
Green Dot = Emergence, Red Dot = Hibernation, Blue Dot = NEW FIND, White Dot = Dead
Like old adult turtles M1, M4 and others, M6 has an entirely smooth carapace.
In 2013, M6 stayed on and near the south facing slope nearly the entire season, crossing the creek onto the north facing slope, as she does annually, before crossing back. M6 was not observed nesting in the 2013 season.
In 2014, M6's long travels eventually brought her back to her 2 previous years hibernation location, but she also appeared to be ill as she went into hibernation. She was taken to the Wildlife Center of Virginia for treatment, where she spent the winter and recovered. She was re-introduced in the spring at her hibernation site, and spent the 2015 summer season exhibiting normal behavior.
M6 regularly crosses the road to nest which puts her survival at risk.