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Hundreds Of Turtles Run Away From Georgia Farm

A slider turtle, one of the breeds that escaped from David Driver's Georgia turtle farm.
Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources
A slider turtle, one of the breeds that escaped from David Driver's Georgia turtle farm.

This isn't oxymoronic but last week, hundreds of turtles successfully dashed out of a Georgia turtle farm and escaped into nearby undergrowth. While there was no slow-speed chase, turtle farmer David Driver tells the Chattanooga News about 1,600 reptiles got away.

It all started last week, when suspected vandals tore down or stole metal siding on Driver's property keeping the turtles penned up. Seizing their opportunity, the reptiles made a break for it: hundreds of them sped, well, maybe 'walked with purpose' to the openings and disappeared into nearby ponds.

Driver says he found out when he got calls from neighbors who saw turtles scooting over the roads, according to the Summerville News. All kinds of turtles escaped: snapping, soft shelled, eastern paints and more. Driver estimates he's lost the bulk of four years' worth of work.

He sells some of the turtles to pet operators and others he ships to China, where they are eaten. Driver says even before the vandalism, sales were falling.

A sheriff's investigator joked to the Chattanooga News about "packs of wild turtles running rampant in the Harrisburg area. Be advised," before becoming serious, warning police are still looking for thieves.

And the vandals? Police suspect they just wanted the metal, because they made off with the tailgate of Driver's old green jeep. They're checking junkyards for it.

A line from Dr. Seuss's Yertle the Turtle seems apt here: "...and the turtles, of course...all the turtles are free. As turtles, and, maybe, all creatures should be."

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Korva Coleman is a newscaster for NPR.