December 27, 2012

College student's turtle project takes dark twist

The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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In this Dec. 12, 2012 photo, Clemson University student Nathan Weaver, right, talks with his professor, Rob Baldwin, left, as they wait to see if a fake turtle he is using in his research is run over in a road near Clemson, S.C. Weaver is placing the fake turtle in roads near campus and seeing how many drivers intentionally run over it. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

click image to enlarge

In this Dec. 12, 2012 photo, Clemson University student Nathan Weaver holds a fake turtle he is using in his research to try and save the animals in Clemson, S.C. Weaver is placing the fake turtle in roads near campus and seeing how many drivers intentionally run over it. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

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The father denies it at first, then claims he hits them because they are a road hazard. "It's my only sport when I'm traveling," he says. "My only hobby."

That hobby has been costly to turtles.

It takes a turtle seven or eight years to become mature enough to reproduce, and in that time, it might make several trips across the road to get from one pond to another, looking for food or a place to lay eggs. A female turtle that lives 50 years might lay over 100 eggs, but just two or three are likely to survive to reproduce, said Weaver's professor, Rob Baldwin.

Snakes also get run over deliberately. Baldwin wishes that weren't the case, but he understands, considering the widespread fear and loathing of snakes. But why anyone would want to run over turtles is a mystery to the professor.

"They seem so helpless and cute," he said. "I want to stop and help them. My kids want to stop and help them. My wife will stop and help turtles no matter how much traffic there is on the road. I can't understand the idea why you would swerve to hit something so helpless as a turtle."

 

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Additional Photos

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In this Dec. 12, 2012 photo, the shattered plastic shell of a fake turtle sits near the turtle's rubber body on a road near Clemson, S.C. Clemson University student Nathan Weaver is placing fake turtles in roads near campus to see how many drivers intentionally run over the animals. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

  


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