Humane Long Island accuses Suffolk workers of 'mowing down' hundreds of turtles
Humane Long Island says hundreds of snapping turtles were "mowed down" in Sayville.
They say it happened at Meadow Croft Estate.
John Di Leonardo, president of Humane Long Island, says a resident found the carcasses of newly hatched snapping turtles on Monday.
He says the hatchlings were killed by county workers while they were mowing the lawn.
"You can see there are fresh mowing tracks," Di Leonardo says. "The county has confirmed that they mowed this property last week even though it is nesting season or hatching season for these sensitive keystone species."
Wildlife experts say the property has been a known nesting site for snapping turtles for more than 60 years
Karenlynn Stracher a wildlife rehabilitator, says 900 potential turtles were killed, which means an entire year of hatchlings for the area was wiped out.
Di Leonardo says the loss of the reptiles is a big blow to the environment.
"Snapping turtles are basically nature's cleanup crew," Di Leonardo says. "They eat decaying matter, and they keep our waterways clean."
A county parks spokesperson issued a statement, saying in part, "Wildlife biologists who have responded to inspect the site believe that the death of the turtle may be the result of predation by other wildlife species."
Stracher, however, says the absence of turtle remains near the nests show that scavenger did not kill the turtles.
"If you had scavengers, they would not have left carcasses all over this field," Stracher says.
Humane Long Island says they will not allow the county to scapegoat or malign scavengers and will continue to press the county to protect the turtle nests.
Humane Long Island is calling on the county to stop mowing the grounds during hatching season between August and October, and to be more careful about checking for signs of turtles before doing any kind of landscaping work.
"We're urging them to do the right thing," Di Leonardo says.