Join Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist, Steve Parren, and others for an enjoyable and satisfying workday, as we pull up plant growth on some rare stretches of Spiny Softshell nesting beaches at North Hero State Park and Swanton preparing for the turtle egg-laying season next June. Map, Painted, and Snapping Turtles also nest on these beaches.
The Eastern Spiny Softshell Turtle is a threatened species in Vermont, and Steve has worked for the preservation of this species for many years. While most hatchlings will have crawled up out of their nest and into the lake by the end of September, some late emerging young of other turtle species may still be underground.
We sometimes find Eastern Spiny Softshell Turtle hatchlings as we pull up the current season’s growth from the shale pebble beaches. By October the lake will be too cold for them, so they are usually brought indoors for the winter. ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center cares for some young Spiny Softshells each year to give them a head start on life. They will overwinter at the aquarium, and in the process become part of the regular educational programming at ECHO.
What to bring: Bring warm clothes in layers, work gloves, and rain gear if needed. Bring only short handled tools, a trowel and/or a hand cultivator. Some hatchling Painted and Map turtles overwinter in their nests inches below ground. Bring lunch and water. Bring friends.
Families always welcome: Steve will bring some baby Spiny Softshells and other turtle species for you to see and will discuss their biology and conservation need.
Trail/accessibility information: There are no sidewalks or trails at the work site and the loose shale of the beach will be problematic for those without full mobility. Both sites will have wheelchair accessible port-o-lets available on site. If you require accommodations or have questions about accessibility, please contact Audubon Vermont at 802/434-3068.