Conserving the living treasures in our own backyards relies heavily on working with partners of all kinds across the state. From individual homeowners to government agencies and other conservation nonprofits, a cooperative approach allows us to achieve much more than we could working alone. We’ve found some of our most valuable partnerships to be with the towns that host our most active field sites, and this week we’re taking a closer look at one of those towns: Andover, MA.
Andover is a town about 20 miles north of Boston, with a population around 35,000 people. With 2300 acres of space protected and managed by the town’s Conservation Commission and another 1100 acres by the Andover Village Improvement Society (AVIS), Andover is also clearly a town with a strong conservation ethic. That’s fortunate for the plants and animals that live there, which include both wood and box turtles. Zoo New England’s Field Conservation team has been monitoring and supporting the wood turtle population in Andover for several years now, including headstarting healthy hatchlings like this one (above)!
The wood turtles’ human neighbors have been very supportive of our efforts to track, protect, and nurture their reptilian counterparts in recent years, but our collaboration with the town of Andover goes beyond a friendly wave to the residents whose backyards we invade for several weeks during turtle nesting season. The Field Conservation team recently visited some Andover conservation land where both wood and box turtles can be found, and consulted on future management plans to develop better foraging and nesting habitat for the turtles there. We also visited some plantings of New Jersey tea, a slow-growing shrub that supports a rare specialist moth species whose caterpillars are called (appropriately enough) the New Jersey tea inchworm.
To add some fun into the mix, Zoo New England ran a table at Andover’s recent Winterfest celebration on Pomps Pond. In addition to telling locals about the turtles and our work in the community, Conservation Outreach Coordinator Matt Kamm also led scheduled turtle tracking programs, demonstrating radiotelemetry techniques and challenging Andover kids to find the hidden stuffed turtle on the trails beside the pond. We’re looking forward to continuing to support conservation of turtles, plants, insects, and more with our Andover partners in the years to come!