"Heading Out (Eastern Box Turtle)"
Graphite Pencil, 5 x 9
During fieldwork with VCU Rice Center and Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries researchers, I captured reference material for this drawing of an Eastern Box Turtle. In spring 2008, VCU Rice Center and DGIF researchers began work on developing an effective way to release captive-borne, young Eastern Box Turtles and restore them to the habitat at the Rice center. I volunteered during one trip focused on tracking the movement of the turtles and monitoring their health status. Box Turtles are the most common terrestrial turtle in the eastern U.S. However, their populations may be declining across their range. Many well-meaning individuals often relocate the turtles in an effort to rescue them from roads or areas scheduled for development. Unfortunately, upon release, relocated Box Turtles often orient themselves in a homeward-bound direction resulting in mortality from various causes. Higher rates of success have been documented in turtles penned at the relocation site for a period of up to one year prior to release. DGIF and VCU have launched a multiyear research project at VCU’s Rice Center that will attempt successful relocation of the Eastern Box Turtle. Worldwide, nearly two-thirds of terrestrial and aquatic turtle species are considered threatened due to habitat reduction. Relocation of turtle populations to protected habitats is becoming increasingly important to turtle conservation.