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Friday, July 16, 2010

"Winstina", Box Turtle, San Jose

Winstina is a box turtle that is approximately 65 to 70 years old. She has been with her current person for over 25 years. She would spend most of her time on the front enclosed patio that had a gate to the front of the house. The gate should be self-closing, but sometimes would not close all the way. In the past, Winstina would be found on the sidewalk or driveway or backyard or hiding in the bushes. When I started the search, Winstina had been missing for a month when we started the search. This was not unusual since she would not be seen for days, weeks as she would go and hide somewhere in the bushes or dig into the dirt.

I learned a lot about turtles today. Mainly that box turtles do not need to be in water, like I thought all turtles needed to be. The red eared slider is the type of turtle that people most think of when they think of turtle, and they do need to be in water. This is the type of turtle that people see in creeks and ponds. Winstina's person said that if a box turtle is put into water, they should float.

The GPS tracking was not working today, so I will do my best to describe the track. The track we found led away from the house and down the street and continued for several blocks. We eventually went all the way to a local park and then to the creek that runs through the park. The track went all the way to the creek, but did not lead away from it, which means that she was taken to the creek and dropped off there.

On the other side of the creek was another well worn path down to the creek, so we went around the creek to the other side and checked for a track leading away. We did find her scent leading away from the creek. The track continued away from the park and through some neighborhoods. It did go directly into an apartment complex and then back out and through the neighborhood again.

At this point Winstina's person stopped the track since she had to be home for an appointment.

What we discovered was that it looked like Winstina got onto the sidewalk or driveway and then somebody passing by saw her, thought she was lost and took her to the creek, which they thought all turtles might need. From there another person found her in the creek and picked her up and brought her home.

I recommended that they use the automated phone message services and flyer distribution service to get the word out to their neighborhood and the area where we tracked her to to find out who might know where she is.