On a recent hike at a Barry County nature preserve, a team that included Grand Valley biologist Jennifer Moore and her research partner from John Ball Zoo searched for signs that nine Eastern box turtles who were given a head start on survival as hatchlings were behaving as they should in the wild.
What they found: Nine turtles, burrowed nicely into the ground for the winter, said Moore, associate professor of biology. Just as they were supposed to be.
This was the latest indication that the first year of a conservation program between Grand Valley and the zoo, called headstarting, was a success. Researchers said the finding provides hope for the group of turtle hatchlings that are part of the second year.
Researchers had also found that the first group of nine put on weight over the summer and, most importantly, of course, successfully avoided predators, Moore said.
"They had a banner year," she said.