Buddy was different from the other turtles in the pond, and it wasn’t because of his missing back leg. He had a unique yellow coloring under his neck and bright yellow spots down his arm. He was all alone, until a snapping turtle came up to attack. The interns at The Outdoor Campus West saved Buddy from the snapping turtle and brought Buddy into a safe location.

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After recognizing Buddy did not belong to their part of the state, The Outdoor Campus West reached out to PhD candidate Drew Davis from the University of South Dakota, in hopes that Buddy could live east of the river.

With the help of The University of South Dakota, The Outdoor Campus West was able to identify Buddy as a endangered Blanding’s turtle, located far outside of his natural habitat. Blanding’s turtles are distributed across the Great Lakes region, east through Iowa, Minnesota and also northern New York. Very few populations exist around this region, especially not as far west as Rapid City where Buddy was discovered.

Emmett Keyser, the Regional Supervisor for South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, was in Rapid City for a meeting when Buddy was found. After receiving news of this unique turtle, The Outdoor Campus sent Emmett to go pick up Buddy in order to transfer him to the East location. Emmett and Buddy traveled across the state together where they enjoyed each other’s company. “I was lucky enough to hold him overnight; he’s a neat little critter” said Keyser. “He’s left an impression on all of us here at The Outdoor Campus.”

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blanding's turtle habitat

The University of South Dakota will be taking Buddy today June 26th, 2017 to use in the Biology department for educational purposes. At USD Buddy will help teach students about endangered species as well as the importance of habitat protection.

“Buddy definitely has a story to tell, we don’t know how he got to South Dakota, but we sure are excited he’s here,” Keyser said.

For more information on Blanding’s turtles visit SDherps.org

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