MCR Monthly Newsletter

What’s Hatchn’ing at Merrill Creek Reservoir with Ranger Rich


About the Author: Richard Dansen Sr.

Rich has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science with a concentration in zoology and wildlife management. Rich has been with Merrill Creek Reservoir since 1995 where he teaches environmental education.

You can find Rich each weekend at the MCR visitors center talking about the wonderful wildlife and habitats of MCR. Stop by to say hi!

In writing this monthly newsletter, I hope to inform and educate readers about some of the wonderful and fascinating events going on in nature at Merrill Creek Reservoir each month. Enjoy!
– Ranger Rich

Ranger Rich


Turtles on the Move!

It is about this time when gravid female turtles are compelled by instinct to leave the lakes, ponds, and streams and lumber onto the land to excavate a nest and lay eggs. Usually, early morning or late evening while raining these females seek soft soil or
loose gravel (often along roadsides) to use their hind legs to scoop out a cavity in the soil about 4 inches deep or as deep as her legs can reach!

They love to dig in roadside gravel; so, please watch out for turtles in the road!  I recently found a wood turtle (NJ threatened species) crossing the road at MCR.  Upon examination of the turtle’s shell it was determined that this turtle had been previously captured and marked in 1990!! She is healthy and surviving within the preserve for over 34 years! Turtles are not very prolific, and some species reproduce very slowly, with as few as one egg per year!

Please DON’T take home a wild turtle for a pet, it is illegal in New Jersey, and you remove all of that turtle’s future offspring from the environment. Merrill Creek turtles are marked and the subject of ongoing scientific studies. If you see one in the road just carefully help it along across in the same direction it is heading, TAKE a picture, but never the turtle!


With warm evenings in June comes the childhood fun of catching fireflies and putting them in a jar. But did you know there are about 30 different species of firefly in our area? The length of the flash and the time between blinks help males and females of the same species find each other!

Get out with the kids and catch some! But always make sure to let them go after you take a good look at them.


A little more vocabulary…..
PROLIFIC…. The ability of a plant or animal to produce many offspring.
GRAVID…. A female who is pregnant (carrying eggs or young).
CARAPACE…. The upper shell of a turtle.
PLASTRON…. The lower shell of a turtle

Get out and enjoy nature!
Remember:  Take pictures …leave only footprints!