When I was a little girl, we lived on the coast of Mississippi. Our beachfront house had a front yard regularly visited by box turtles. If a box turtle survived the journey across the street from the beach, my sister and I were thrilled to make it a pet. The creature is not known for superior intellect.
Yesterday I read an article by Paul Duggan in the Washington Post about a box turtle, though, that was instrumental in helping the U.S. Park police monitor illegal activity in Rock Creek Park which is close to the Washington, D.C. and Maryland border.
A National Park Service researcher, Ken Ferebee, has been monitoring Eastern box turtles in the park. Over 135 have been counted in recent years. Three of the box turtles have tiny radio transmitters on their shells. So, as they roam the area, their movements are studied. "I was walking in the woods, following the signal with my receiver, trying to find the turtle, and I walked into an area where some large trees had fallen down," he recalled Thursday. "So, there's a big hole in the tree canopy, so there's a lot of light getting down to the ground, and there's a lot of vegetation growing there."
He noticed the turtle, Turtle No. 72, and walked toward her.
"But as I'm walking, I could see a patch of bare soil that didn't look quite right. And when I got closer, I could tell it had been cleared and some plants had been planted. They looked like they'd been grown somewhere else and then actually replanted in the park."
The vegetation was about 4 feet tall and it was about 10 plants.
"I could tell they were marijuana plants," said Ferebee, 46. "I've seen pictures of the leaves before. I've actually seen marijuana plants before, too. And I was a little surprised to see them right there. They've been found in the park before, but it's been a long time." "I called the police to come see, because I knew they'd be interested in that."
Yes, I chuckled when I read the statement that he'd seen pictures of the leaves, too.
The Park Police verified that the area was under watch and a 19 year old from Maryland was arrested as he arrived to tend to his crop.
Turtle No. 72 was last observed in the park, munching on insects.