Thursday, June 30, 2011

Critter Concerns Egg-revate JFK Travel Times; Terrapins Prompt Teachable Moment

Seeing dead wildlife on highways and byways distresses and deflates me. Just ask my husband. Go ahead; I’ll wait.

The scientist or researcher who someday figures out how to keep wildlife off roads—other than the obvious solution: fewer humans or cars or exterminating wildlife—or devises an underground or over-the-road bridge or effective deterrent will be getting a love letter from me, for whatever that’s worth.

And so, I was pleasantly pleased that Kennedy International Airport managers allowed time for an impromptu turtle “storming” on Runway 4L yesterday morning.

The Federal Aviation Administration, via ABC News, said flight times had slowed to something of a crawl, reaching 30 minutes on some flights.

An FAA spokeswoman reported that the terrapin trek (reportedly diamondback terrapins to be specific) started at 7:30 a.m. ET Wednesday, 29 June, and the runway was shut down at 9:30 a.m. when "the bulk of turtles started to go across."

Approximately between 100 and 200 eventually either made it across or were ushered to safety, as you’ll see from the companion video above.

JetBlue, tongue-in-cheek, admitted that they hoped for faster animals the next time.

The critters were crossing to lay eggs, and were summarily rounded up. Luckily, airport officials are used to dealing with this type of wildlife-abutting-development issue and have said that the turtle trek could continue for a while yet.

Enter a so-called teachable moment for our family.

In a nutshell, pun intended, I have something of a mini-penchant for getting said reptiles off rural and small-town roads. My personal turtle-roundup record--for the month of June 2011, anyway--is two. (Or maybe three. Time flies when you’re shepherding reptiles to safety!)

Yes, call me critter-crazy, but if it is safe to do so, I will move turtles off roadways, and when the kids get older I will impress on them a couple things about this type of scenario: (a) compassion should be a prime mover but (b) make sure it’s safe for you and other people to perform any rescue action. That is to say, the road to you-know-where is paved with such good intentions.

Like the time I inadvertently came upon the snapping turtle in the middle of the road next to a small lake. S/he didn’t snap me, but I got him/her out of road, by hook or by crook. (And s/he smelled terrible!)

In the end, I’ve always believed Gandhi’s well-known quote is important, and hope the kids will appreciate the example(s) set by my husband and me. I’ll paraphrase: “The progress of a nation can be measured by its treatment of animals.” Hear, hear--and, indeed, by its treatment of any variation upon the theme of species. Whether those weak, meek, or "slow" variants turn out to be outdoor ankle-biters or the indoor variety (aka children). The vulnerable in society, like the elderly, children, the sick, the poor and hungry, and, increasingly, the non-millionaire class ought to have their own shepherds and advocates, too, don't you think?

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