Animal rescue

Animal rescue group says 100 baby turtles mowed down by Meadow Croft Estate workers

SAYVILLE, Long Island (WABC) — The Suffolk County Parks Department is investigating the deaths of more than 100 baby turtles.

A Long Island animal group said county workers “literally mowed down” snapping turtle hatchlings at the Meadow Croft estate.

“These animals have been nesting here for decades, so they should have known about the nests and they shouldn’t have mowed them,” said John Di Leonardo, wildlife rehabilitation specialist and anthropozoologist.

A Bayport resident found only 10 survivors after Monday’s incident.

Karen Maloney said they were the size of ping pong balls.

“I came out and to my horror they were flattened, they were smashed, their heads were cut off, they were all over the field,” Maloney said.

She contacted the parks department and they told her they mowed the lawn every two weeks and last mowed it on Wednesday, August 10.

They emailed him saying that one of their ecologists had investigated the site and felt there was a possibility of predators obtaining the nesting site.

“Not only is this slaughter a concern for animal welfare advocates, it’s an eyesore for conservationists,” said Karenlynn Stracher, wildlife rehabilitator and volunteer with Humane Long Island. “Snapping turtles are New York State’s official reptile and a keystone species, serving as nature’s cleanup crew and removing detritus from our lands and waterways. This important species must be protected.”

Wildlife experts say the baby turtles hatched about a quarter of a mile from the water, where they were headed.

“My heart was broken,” Di Leonardo said. “They were little baby animals experiencing life for the first time and instead of enjoying their walk to the water, they encountered lawnmower blades.”

Humane Long Island is urging authorities to immediately enact a ban on mowing or otherwise disturbing nesting sites at Meadow Croft Estate from April through October to prevent similar tragedies.

The Suffolk Count Department of Parks released the following statement:

“Suffolk cares deeply for all wildlife living on county property and we are doing our best to protect all species at all times. We are aware of the situation at Meadow Croft Estate and staff have been deployed to investigate. the site. Going forward, we will be working with experts to determine what adjustments could be made to prevent something like this from happening in the future.”

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