This past week the Walder team and Dr. Kaitlin Moorehead (Ph.D. student in WEL) worked with Du Page field biologist, Dan Thompson, to trap turtles in Du Page County. Dan Thompson has been lead biologist of the Blanding’s turtle restoration project since ~2015 and has kept it going despite many obstacles the project has faced. Before the season started, Dan reached out to WEL to help him
determine how the health of Du Page’s Blanding’s turtle population was doing. WEL stepped up to the challenge and sent Dr. Kaitlin and Sam Johnson to complete the task. Upon arrival, the team became instantly overwhelmed by the largest number of turtle captures they have ever encountered in a day. This
trend continued throughout the week! Dr. Kaitlin and Sam were thrilled as well as overwhelmed by the number of turtles they were sampling. They were catching over 20 Blanding’s turtles a day along with some other species of turtles for the Walder project! With this, they had to call in recruits for help. Dr. Matt Allender (WEL principal investigator), Dr. Laura Adamovicz (Walder project principal investigator and WEL co-principal investigator), Dr. John Winter (WEL zoo resident), and Kristin Higgins (WEL veterinary student intern) stepped up to help in the field throughout the week! In response to their help, the team was able to sample more turtles than alone. Dr. Kaitlin and Sam wants to thank everyone that came out to make this possible. They also want to thank Kristin Higgins, Kami (Cook County veterinary student intern), Kate (Cook County veterinary student intern), Dr. John Winter, and Nick Liska (Kane County veterinary student intern) for working after hours to help them with lab work.
Lastly, WEL wants to thank Dan Thompson for building up and executing the head start program in Du Page County that shows a remarkable amount of promise for the future of Blanding’s turtles. Keep up the good work Dan!