The Shell Game Ends

1201115052As most people out there know, there is no power like turtle power. At least that’s what the folks at Casinofacts, a group opposed to the Mashpee Wampanoag’s efforts to build a casino in Middleborough, had been counting on.

The Globe reported over the weekend that the group was hoping to use the presence of the red-bellied cooter, an endangered species of turtle, on the proposed casino site to thwart the tribe’s plans.

Just one problem: There aren’t any red-bellied cooters on the roughly 500-acre parcel. According to Massachusetts Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Spokesperson Lisa Capone, the Globe error resulted from a miscommunication over the fact that the endangered cooters live in the vicinity of the land parcel, but not on it.

The Globe also reported that the four-toed salamander, the Eastern-box turtle, and a fish called a bridle shiner—all classified as “species of special concern,” meaning not quite endangered— as well as the water willow stem borer (a type of moth, classified as a ‘threatened species’) were present on the site. But Capone says that of all those critters, only the Eastern box turtle lives on the tribe’s plot.

Unfortunately for casino opponents, it doesn’t look like the plight of the Eastern-box turtle alone will be enough to scuttle the casino plans.

“The Eastern-box turtle has not been a deal breaker in any case yet,” Capone says. “It’s been more determined that a project would not have an impact [on them] or they were able to arrange the project around them.”

I guess we should have known the old red bellied cooter wouldn’t be a problem for the Mashpee—take a look up there at their tribal seal. That sure looks awfully like a giant cooter in the middle of it.