100+ Baby Turtles ‘Literally Mowed Down' by Long Island Workers, Animal Group Claims

Snapping turtle hatchling
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A Long Island animal group is alleging that Suffolk County workers "literally mowed down" more than 100 snapping turtle hatchlings and demanding an investigation into what happened.

John Di Leonardo, the president and executive director of Humane Long Island, said that a resident made the gruesome discovery of the dead young reptiles earlier in the week at the Meadow Croft Estate in Sayville.

On Wednesday, he called on the county parks department and the New York Department of Environmental Protection to look into the matter, and said officials need "enact a prohibition on mowing over or otherwise disturbing nesting sites" at the estate during the spring, summer and into the fall.

"This massacre of more than 100 hatchlings is just the latest of a disturbing series of deaths attributed to human carelessness on Long Island, including federally protected shorebirds having their nests destroyed on the South Shore, a yellow warbler dying after being caught in a glue-trap at a Nassau County Preserve, and a rash of wildlife deaths attributed to rodenticides," Di Leonardo said.

Karenlynn Stracher, a volunteer with the organziation, said that protecting snapping turtles — which are a keystone species and New York's state reptile — is crucial because they serve as "nature's cleanup crew and removing detritus from our lands and waterways."

A spokesman for the Suffolk County Parks Department said that the county "cares deeply about all wildlife living on County property and we do our best to protect all species at all times. We are aware of the situation at Meadow Croft Estate and staff has been deployed to investigate the site. Going forward we will be working with experts to determine any adjustments that could be made to prevent something like this from happening in the future.”

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