GERMANTOWN, Wis. (CBS 58) — When Katie Wiedmeyer noticed an injured snapping turtle laying in the middle of Division Rd. in Germantown earlier this summer, she knew she had to do something.
“Pulled around and turned and my kids waited in the car and I ran out there and saw she was injured and tried my best to move her,” Wiedmeyer said, recalling the evening. “Where her injuries were, it made it really difficult for me to be able to pick her up.”
The self-proclaimed animal lover wasn’t going to let that stop her from helping. She took her kids home, grabbed a shovel and a container to place the snapper in and then went back to the same location to do what she could.
“I love animals, I always have,” Wiedmeyer said, when asked what inspired her to help the creature. “Immediately came back and started calling every wildlife rehabber that I could find on Google that day.”
She ended up getting in contact with Pine View Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, a non-profit that specializes in helping rehabilitate birds, reptiles, amphibians, fox, coyote and badger.
“Without the people calling and bringing us these admits, we wouldn’t be able to function and the population would be so far down,” explained Kristen Bustamante, hospital manager at Pine View. “Having people that are willing to call and to make the trip and the effort to catch and bring us these admits, it’s always fantastic.
Unfortunately, the snapping turtle Wiedmeyer helped rescue had severe injuries, leading to a decision to euthanize so that it would not suffer. While sad, Wiedmeyer’s efforts weren’t in vain.
“Fortunately with our turtles, we are able to salvage the eggs that she was going to lay,” explained Bustamante. “Got 46 eggs from her, which is an amazing outcome.”
The turtle Wiedmeyer had tried to rescue was a female, crossing the road to lay her eggs. The experts were able to incubate those eggs, creating a similar atmosphere to what it would have been like had the mother laid them in the loose, warm gravel on the side of a roadway.
“We have perfect amount of sunlight and the substrate that we have is something that holds moisture, but not as readily as soil where it’s not going ot get muddy,” Bustamante explained. “We try to replicate, the best that we can, how they would be laid. So we kind of have layers of eggs. We try not to put them, obviously, right on top of each other, because as they hatch they will. The all don’t hatch on the same day.”
Bustamante says the eggs are expected to hatch around the end of August or early September. Once they do, the snappers will be observed for a week before being released into the wild. It’s a moment Wiedmeyer and her children look forward to participating in.
“My kids and I are super excited to be able to get to help put them back into nature and give that. That’s the example we want to give,” Wiedmeyer said, hoping others will follow her family’s example. “Care for animals, let them have their homes, respect that this is their home too.”