Pesticides pollute LI turtles, the rescue group says

Patch News

JAMESPORT, NY – In addition to the dangers on Long Island’s roads, turtles are also at risk from pesticides used on the lawns, according to Karen Testa, executive director of Turtle Rescue of the Hamptons.

Chemicals used to treat turf “are taking a toll on Long Island’s turtle population,” Testa said, mostly in the form of ear or ear abscesses caused by bacterial or viral infections.

Of the 93 turtles currently cared for at Testa’s facility, half have been diagnosed with hearing abscesses, she said.

“We are seeing a staggering number of hearing abscesses in the turtles being brought to our center. These injuries are detrimental to wildlife and it’s worse this year. Because of Covid and more time at home, homeowners are spraying toxins on their” these Chemicals poison our turtles and damage our ecosystem at the same time, “Testa said.

Auditory abscesses begin when chemicals irritate the turtle’s temporal membrane and the body forms an abscess, Testa said.

“They grow the size of golf balls on their little heads and are extremely painful. Affected turtles need medical intervention to relieve the pain, remove and / or drain the abscesses, and receive antibiotic treatment,” she said.

Testa urged homeowners and landscapers to “dramatically reduce” the amount of pesticides used; she too and encouraged the use of natural, organic alternatives.

The cost of treating the abscesses is daunting, Testa added: In June, laboratory bills for cultivating each abscess and providing antibiotics to the turtles were more than $ 1,000.

The toxins can build up in turtles and block vitamin A receptors; Vitamin A is responsible for respiratory and inner ear lining health, Testa said.

“I urge Long Island residents to think about how these pesticides are negatively impacting nature. Is your perfect green lawn worth a turtle’s life?” Testa asked

Every year around 190 turtles are rehabilitated in the turtle rescue facility; Many are brought in by residents who rescued turtles that have been injured by cars, animals, lawn mowers, construction, wildlife, pets, boats, chemical poisoning, window well inclusions, drowning from crab traps, and entanglement in balloons and fishing gear.

But pesticides are also a threat, Testa said.

“Environmental factors also have a negative impact on the turtles on Long Island. They are close to the ground so all fertilizers and pesticides in our soil and water affect them. They are the most endangered organisms in the world. ”

Testa and her team have rehabilitated and released 1,500 turtles over the past nine years.

Turtles are most active around dawn and dusk from April to October. “You are protected by our state, so please get help as soon as possible if an injured turtle is found,” Testa said.


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