Eastern Box Turtle along the Reese Hollow Trail
Image credit Gary
Since the first time I ever encountered a turtle along the trail, decades ago, I've picked it up. That's just what you do.
But on this day back in August, I decided that I would not. I imagine that getting picked up might be a tad stressful for a wild animal. So I simply got down to turtle level and just scoped out the critter from several feet away without actually touching it. Took a couple photos of this artfully constructed and adapted critter, then backed off and watched it slowly relax, stretch out its legs, and speed off (well, it actually ambled or moseyed, but you get the idea).
Now I'm not a strident animal-rights activist (although maybe I should be?), and in the future, say, if I am hiking a trail with Mister Tristan (the 6-year old human being, not the blog), and if we encounter a turtle, chances are I will pick it up to show Mister Tristan the bottom shell and the legs. You know, a teachable moment.
The link to Ultrarunning, of course is this: we spend more backcountry time, thus we see many more critters than do most of our more sedentary contemporaries But the default approach for me now is, don't touch. Kinda like a gesture of respect, live and let live.