TURTLE TRACKS

"BONES TRACKS"

Bones in an adult male Eastern Box Turtle. He was found in July 2007 by Dr. Billy Hagler, a guest of Earthshine who found him in his barn a few miles from the lodge.

Bones made many friends in Billy's family including Alexander who lives in California.

Bones adopted "guardians" are the Hagler family and Carrie and Michael Arrowood.

In December 2007 the Haglers had some special signs made to warn drivers that Bones and his friends might be crossing the roads on the farm. (The horse asked to be in the photo)

If you have a high concentration of box turtles on your land signs such as this are a MUST to warn drivers to slow down and watch for them.

Bones' stats are as follows:

Found on 7-28-07

Location: Near Cedar Mountain, NC.

Weight: 485g

Maximum Carapace Length: 144mm

Total Plastron Length: 147mm

Age: 20+ years old.

Habitat where Bones was found: inside a horse barn on the edge of a pasture near a small stream bordered by White pine and Rhododendron.

ID marked marginals: BKL.

BONES BLOG

Bones UPDATE May 03rd, 2011

John Rucker and his Turtledogs will be helping me search for Mr. Bones today, tomorrow and possibly Thursday. Hopefully, we will find him so that we will be able to continue following in his tracks for several more years to come. I will be sure to get the entire event on film and post it here, on my youtube site and on the Turtle Tracks and Earthshine Nature Programs Facebook pages.

Bones UPDATE February 20th, 2011

I have been unable to locate Bones' transmitter signal since September 2010. I believe that it has malfunctioned and that Bones is doing just fine safe in his winter sleep. Come spring, if I haven't picked up his signal (remember Jimmy's signal was offline for almost an entire year before I picked it up again!), I will bring in John Rucker and his Turtle Dogs to sniff out Mr. Bones so we can continue tracking him.

Bones UPDATE August 24th, 2010

On September 01, 2010 we will have been tracking Mr. Bones for three years!!!! Bones went about his normal movements this year up until late July when he vanished off of my scanners. I tried to locate him on several occasions. I walked all over the mountain with no luck. I feared that his transmitter had failed until I again located his signal on August 23rd. When I found him he was sitting about 10 feet from a rather large hole in the ground! It looked like either an old mammal den or a very old stump hole that had been enlarged by the action of animals. Whatever it was it was the perfect place for a turtle to take shelter and possibly find a few crickets, worms and slugs to eat. I believe Mr. Bones had used this as a refuge during the heat of the days during August and if he was in fact in this hole his transmitters signal would not have been able to punch through the several feet of rock and dirt and make it to my receiver's antenna. I will keep a close eye on Bones and if his signal vanishes again I believe I know where to look.

Bones UPDATE March 07, 2010

Bones is still in his winter sleep but we hope to see him sometime in April or May. His late summer and fall 2009 tracking logs are behind due to a loss of website data and are in the process of being updated. They will be up to date and online before he wakes up from his winters nap.

Bones UPDATE June 04, 2009

Wow! Bones has had an interesting 2009! It started late last fall when I replaced his first transmitter with a new unit. The new unit worked for only a few months and then it mysteriously malfunctioned. Bones was then removed from hibernation and placed in a nearby holding pen with some of the substrate from his hibernation site. In early spring he received a new transmitter and was released back at his hibernation site. A couple of weeks later that new transmitter also malfunctioned! After consulting with the transmitter company they were as baffled as I was and after some research into the issue discovered that the problem was human error--an employee of the company did not follow directions when assembling the transmitters so this employee was terminated and the problem was rectified. Bones then received a third transmitter and was released back into his habitat. Rd. Hagler released Bones near his hibernation site in the hopes that he would stay away from the road--no such luck, quickly made his way back to the fields and boggy area near the highway! A couple of weeks, later during a rainy few days in late May, he made his way out into the highway apparently in pursuit of Mrs. Bones who was nearby. A local man who knew of the tracking project found Bones in the middle of the road and took him to Dr. Hagler who decided to paint his shell with bright orange paint so he would be very visible to motorists should he try to cross the road again. While I do not usually advocate painting turtles because it disrupts their camouflage I believe that in this instance it will be interesting to see how Bones reacts and how his movements will be affected. Meredith then took Bones and Mrs. Bones (who is now gravid) to a spot near his hibernation site. Although moving turtles is not something I would normally do, in this case it was either move or die and I emotionally decided to move the turtles. This will be just another experiment in turtle homing ability and movements. What will they do? Only time will tell.

Bones UPDATE September 01, 2007

On September 1st Bones 2007 was fitted with an AVM model MP-2 radio transmitter. The radio transmitter was painted in the same colors and patterns as on Bones' shell. The goal was to camouflage the transmitter so that it matches the shell and does not attract interested creatures that might want to bother this old turtle.

On September 2nd 2007 Bones was released near the point of capture (see the map below) and he happily walked off into the forest. I will track his movements 1-2 times per week in order to attempt to determine his home range and habitat use. Since he was found very close to a busy road I moved him about 150 yards away from his point of capture. It will be interesting to see how he reacts to being moved that far from his discovery location.

To view Bones' 2010 tracking map in a new window just click HERE

To view Bones' 2009 tracking map in a new window just click HERE

To view Bones' tracking maps from 2007-2008 in a new window just click HERE

NOTE: Distances and locations on the map are approximate. Exact location information will not be posted on this site due to possible poaching/trespass issues.

Observational data, movies and photos collected each time Bones is located will be posted through the link below.

Bones Tracks Tracking Logs

To view the index of Bones previous track logs just click HERE

Read a semi-fictional story about the life of Bones the box turtle. It is curently a work in progress.

Please return often because as this study unfolds, I will update this page with more data, photos and movies documenting the journeys of Bones the Eastern Box Turtle.

Please contact us if you have found a box turtle local to the WNC area that is injured, sick, displaced or is in need of a little R & R or if you are interested in becoming a part of The Earthshine Turtle Tracks program.

If you are a Geocacher there is a new Bones Travel Bug you can look for and help in it's travels! Helping Bones the Travel Bug travel helps spread his word of wildlife and habitat conservation to all who find him. If you are not a Geocacher and are wondering what a geocacher is then check it out at Geocaching.


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