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Poplar couple's sand pit attracts egg-laying turtles

When Sue Nash has friends over in the summer, they sometimes sit on the deck and watch wildlife. Turtles, to be specific. Nash and her husband, Mark Nash, built a home along the Poplar River near Poplar, Wis., six years ago. To improve the clay s...

Little turtle
Sue Nash of Poplar holds one of the baby turtles that hatched recently in her yard. (Submitted photo)

When Sue Nash has friends over in the summer, they sometimes sit on the deck and watch wildlife. Turtles, to be specific.

Nash and her husband, Mark Nash, built a home along the Poplar River near Poplar, Wis., six years ago. To improve the clay soil, they had sand and other soils brought in. Turtles from the river immediately discovered the sand and began using it to lay their eggs in early June.

Sue felt sorry for the mother turtles that had to dodge heavy equipment during construction, and she hauled many moms back to the river to ensure their safe passage. She believes the turtles are painted turtles, but the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources couldn't identify the species from the Nashes' photos.

When she and Mark decided to landscape their property last year, they incorporated an oval of sand where the turtles could lay their eggs.

"I felt responsible," Sue said. "I didn't have the heart not to provide something."

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The shallow sand pit in their yard resembles a sand trap at a golf course.

"It worked," she said. "The mothers started coming up and found the pit. They buried their eggs, and I've got babies."

Nash said seven different female turtles laid eggs in the sand. She knows because she marked their backs.

Turtle-watching has become a form of recreation at the Nash home.

"It's very cool," Sue said. "It's fun to watch. They come up like clockwork every June. Now, I've got it down to a science."

And, like clockwork, tiny turtles began emerging from their eggs and heading for the river this past week, Nash said.

"I'm delivering them down to the river so the birds don't get them," she said. "Their shells are still pliable. They're really vulnerable. I get as nervous as a mother."

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