Turtles Thriving Near Birdies and Eagles
By Torleif Sorenson on 7/11/13
This isn't just some "shell" game...

Yesterday, we told you about an environmentalist lobbying group that repeatedly files lawsuits in an attempt to shut down golf courses and other public recreation areas. But contrary to what many eco-activists and less-informed people think, golf courses are increasingly becoming safe havens and refuges for a variety of wildlife.

The latest evidence comes from National Geographic; writer Traci Watson writes that ponds and water hazards in North Carolina are rapidly becoming homes for painted turtles and pond sliders.

Watson interviewed University of Kentucky assistant professor Steven J. Price, Ph.D, who specializes in herpetology (the study of amphibians and reptiles) and in stream and riparian ecology. Dr. Price participated in a recent study of the turtle population around Charlotte, North Carolina, which has experienced massive urban growth in recent decades.

The results showed an amazing growth of the turtle population in golf course ponds — much more so than in typical neighborhood ponds. This could be in part because courses that include water tend to have it in more than just one place, while adjoining fields of grass and flora are also very attractive to them. And as Dan Perry's photograph (above right) clearly illustrates, places like the courses at Turning Stone Resort in upstate New York also are home to snapping turtles and painted turtles, among a deep variety of wildlife.

In fact, golf courses are becoming more ecologically important for wildlife than farmland — 65% more so in the case of several studies. Johan Colding, Ph.D. of the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics in Sweden gives credit to golf course superintendents. In the abstract of a study published in 2009, Dr. Colding said this:
"From an ecosystem management perspective, golf courses represent a promising measure of restoring and enhancing biodiversity in ecologically simplified landscapes. Furthermore, the review suggests that golf courses hold a real potential to be designed and managed to promote critical ecosystem services, like pollination and natural pest control, providing an opportunity for joint collaboration among conservation, restoration and recreational interests."
Credit goes not just to golf course superintendents, architects, owners, and municipalities, but also the USGA and to the Audubon Society through their Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf — over 2,300 courses in the United States and around the world are now part of that program.

Take that, environmentalist extremists.

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Image via Flickr (Dan Perry) and Wikipedia (Greg Hume)

[ comments ]
slimpks1850 says:
Saw a quite large snapping turtle a couple rounds ago... wasn't sure if it was real or not... it was sitting near a bunker. I strolled over and leaned in from 5+ feet away. He moved a bit at me. I took it as -You come closer, I'm biting-. I backed off.
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