Clemson University student Nathan Weaver just wanted to put together a project to help figure out the best way to assist turtles in crossing the road. But he also ended up with a peek into the dark souls of some human beings.
Weaver put realistic-looking rubber turtles, no bigger than a saucer, in the middle of a lane on a busy road near campus. Then he got out of the way and watched as over the next hour, seven drivers intentionally ran over the turtle, and several more appeared to try to hit the defenseless animal, but missed.
“It was a bit surprising. I’ve heard of people and from friends who knew people that ran over turtles. But to see it out here like this was a bit shocking,” said Weaver, a 22-year-old senior in Clemson’s School of Agricultural, Forest and Environmental Sciences.
But to seasoned researchers, the targeting of turtles and other reptiles isn’t surprising. The number of box turtles is on a slow decline, with one prominent reason being the riskiness of crossing the road because the trip takes several minutes.