- Associated Press - Monday, July 20, 2015

DEKALB, Ill. (AP) - A male Blanding’s turtle that scientists with Northern Illinois University have been tracking for about two years has gone missing from the Afton Forest Preserve, according to officials.

The turtle, which was equipped with an antenna and transmitter, recently wandered off the preserve and the connection was ended after a local resident attempted to help it, Al Roloff, natural resource manager with the DeKalb County Forest Preserve District, told The (DeKalb) Daily Chronicle (https://bit.ly/1RJJjX4 ).

The turtle had been missing for six weeks before officials learned about the antenna, he said.

“A farmer in the area thought it was a piece of wire that punctured the inside of the shell,” Roloff said. “The farmer pulled the wire thinking he was doing a good deed. He pulled the antenna off the turtle.”

Blanding’s turtles grow nearly a foot long and have distinct yellow undersides. The species is endangered in Illinois, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.

About two years ago, the turtle was found about two miles from the Afton Forest Preserve and was moved to the marshy area of the preserve, at the request of DNR officials, and researchers at the university began tracking him.

Collin Jaeger is a laboratory coordinator with the school’s biology department and has had been involved with the project since the beginning. He has worked on the radio transmitter and was present last summer when the turtle’s transmitter battery replaced.

“We were trying to determine with this particular (turtle) if it was happy and healthy in a safe environment like Afton,” Jaeger said. “Afton is probably one the best examples of a natural area in DeKalb County, of which there are very few.”

But locating the turtle without its antenna and transmitter would be like “finding a needle in a haystack,” he said.

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Information from: The Daily Chronicle, https://www.daily-chronicle.com


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