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The Silence of the Bell: Monitoring Eastern Box Turtles with Australian Cattle Dogs Paperback – March 11, 2015
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About the Author
Anne Allbright Smith lives in Gardiner, NY with her husband, Ray, and Australian Cattle Dogs (Blue Heelers) Anzac and Diggy. Besides Eastern Box Turtles, Anne has a deep interest in beavers, and she and Ray have produced two video programs, "What's Happening at the Beaver Pond? 2013 and 2014" for the residents of Woodland Pond, a retirement community in New Paltz, NY. When not monitoring either beavers or box turtles you can probably find Anne and Ray geocaching or tracking with Anzac and Diggy. Anne has a BA from Vassar and M. Div from Union Theological Seminary. She taught elementary school for nine years before son Randy and daughter Rebecca joined the family. She prefers to be outdoors, in any kind of weather.
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I was very interested in how she IDed individual turtles and in the different non-canine methods used to track turtles' movements. You will also learn about their life cycle and the threats to their survival, as well as ways we can reduce the inadvertent harm of, say, mowing a field.
Even though Allbright Smith stopped naming the turtles early in her decade-long research, you can tell she has grown fond of some of her subjects. Will #12 and #40 find each other again? I sure hope so, and I suspect the author does as well!
According to Smith, training Anzac and Diggy to track turtles was relatively easy because scenting comes naturally to dogs. Of course, it probably didn’t hurt that Anzac and Diggy had American Kennel Club titles in obedience, rally, agility and tracking. They also worked as therapy dogs, bringing cheer to the elderly. Once a year, Smith and the Wallkill Valley Land Trust sponsor Turtle Day. Humans assume the job of finding the turtles and Anzac and Diggy get the day off.
The tracking role of the Australian Cattle Dogs is what interested me in The Silence of the Bell initially, but once I started reading the book I found myself intrigued with the lives of Eastern Box Turtles. Smith writes about the science in a down to earth and entertaining way. I strongly recommend this book.
I was at the 2013 Turtle Day and although I haven't had a chance to go back yet, this book makes me look forward to going back for Turtle Day soon. Here's hoping you have a great 2016 turtle season and I hope to see you in 2017.
Never thought about the life of a box turtle until I read Anne's book.