Over a period of five years, MATTS members joined the volunteer “MATTS Turtle Team,” headed by MATTS' herpetologist Sandy Barnett, to remove box turtles from the footpath of a multi-billion dollar State tollway in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties in Maryland. More than 950 turtles were moved out of the path of the "Intercounty Connector" over the five field seasons and relocated to potentially safer habitat.
MATTS joined forces with the National Aquarium and the Chesapeake Terrapin Alliance to win a ban on the commercial harvest of the state reptile, the Diamondback Terrapin, in Maryland, Terrapins thrive in brackish waters around the Chesapeake Bay, but are in decline.
MATTS was founded in 1997 by Dr. Gregory Pokrywka. Whether through outreach, adoption, education, advocacy, or something as simple as helping a turtle cross the road, MATTS members are committed to our hard-shelled friends. Here are a few examples of our work:
- Conducting a reptile workshop for 400 students at the Sandy Spring Friends School Environmental Stewardship Day
- Presenting at the National Zoo's "Wildlife 911" Workshop on how to how to triage, house and release box turtles back to their natural habitat
- Participating and displaying at the annual Howard County (MD) GreenFest
- Conducting a presentation on turtles at the Catoctin Nature Center in Frederick County (MD)
- Participating in the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Snapper Workgroup
- Creating and hosting a turtle display for the annual Maryland Day at the University of Maryland-College Park
- Re-homing more than 100 turtles a year through our Maryland DNR-licensed adoption program
- Presenting to 500 students at Howard County Schools "Our Environment in Our Hands" in conjunction with GSA's Dunbar Nature Center
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Each year, MATTS participates in the UMD College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Open House, conducted at the Central MD Research & Education Center. The Open House at the farm demonstrates how Academic, Research, and Extension programs benefit the community. The MATTS exhibit highlights important chelonian outreach and education topics, and this year's guests of honor, an Eastern Box turtle and Eastern Painted turtle, were a hit with all ages. This youngster learned box turtle shell anatomy and got to examine shed aquatic turtle scutes.
Baltimore radio station WBAL AM1090 interviewed MATTS' adoption coordinator, Katrina Smith, and MATTS board member Scott McDaniel of Susquehannock Wildlife Society, to coincide with the release of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie. Katrina and Scott stressed the importance of research and responsible ownership of turtles as pets in one of several interviews that they shared in print, on radio and the internet to help prevent a deluge of unwanted pet turtles, as happened after the original TMNT movie from the 1990's
MATTS joined forces with Susquehannock Wildlife Society and other organizations and individuals concerned with with the safe and ethical treatment of chelonians, in an effort to stop July 4th turtle derbies and replace with educational and fun outreach activities. This is one of two derby turtles confiscated due to severe ear abscesses. They were taken for surgery and released back where they were found after they healed.
MATTS joined HSUS in helping to build a turtle-exclusion fence for box turtles along the most vulnerable section of road in Greenbrier State Park in Western Maryland. It greatly reduced the number of vehicle strikes of these vulnerable creatures.