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Turtle Dreamtime


Fri, Dec 21st, 2001
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By John LevellMonday, December 10, 2001

While long winter naps certainly seem appealing, a cold weather snooze lasting some five or six months is just a tad bit excessive. Factor in not a breath of fresh air or single bite of food for the entire duration of this siesta as well, and the concept becomes downright uninviting indeed. This is, however, precisely the prospect confronting turtles here in southeastern Minnesota each and every year.

Like all reptiles, turtles are what zoologists term "ectothermic," a fancy scientific word that when translated basically means "external heat." Although commonly called cold-blooded (in contrast to the internally produced or endothermic heating system of the "warm-blooded" mammals and birds), turtles and other ectotherms like amphibians, fish and insects simply rely on the environment to maintain bodily heat.

Naturally, long-term exposure to freezing conditions would inevitably soon prove fatal to any animal whose body cools as external temperatures fall. Unable to make like a tourist and wing off to more amiable climates like many birds, cold-blooded animals must instead find some frost-proof haven in order to survive the rigors of harsh northern winters. For local turtles these winter retreats are almost invariably the unfrozen bottoms of rivers, lakes, ponds and streams. There, within the sanctuary provided by muskrat burrows, sunken trees or just burrowed into the mud, our turtles sleep the cold days away.

Although some species are more cold tolerant than others, a winter dormancy lasting from late October to early April is normal for even the hardiest of regional turtles. For the majority of this period many will remain securely locked within what amounts to little more than a cold, dark, wet, and completely ice-blanketed tomb.

Really hardy species, Snappers and Painted Turtles for example, are occasionally seen moving about sluggishly under the ice but most turtles spend much of the winter in a state of suspended animation most commonly called hibernation. While in this state of cold-induced torpor, heart rate, respiration, and brain activity all slow to almost imperceptible levels. Whether enduring this condition for days, weeks or months, hibernating turtles remain tightly withdrawn inside of their shells, unmoving and almost lifeless, never rising to the surface to breathe.

While the mechanisms that enable air-breathing animals to stay submer .....
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Don't worry, help has arrived

Fri, Dec 21st, 2001
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Virginia CooperMonday, December 24, 2001

I know there are a few of you out there who never got your bulbs planted. Don't worry, help has arrived. Don't throw them out in shame. Stop feeling sorry for yourself for not being Martha Stewart. Her ..... 
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A Cup of Christmas Mania

Fri, Dec 21st, 2001
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By Wayne PikeMonday, December 17, 2001

I was lying on the couch after supper tonight admiring the Christmas tree. Visions of recent lutefisk suppers danced in my head and occasionally I thought I could still taste it even though it has been a ..... 
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What about Fillmore County?

Fri, Dec 21st, 2001
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Monday, December 24, 2001

When I arrived at my office last Monday, there was a copy of the Sunday Winona Daily News waiting for me in the entry way. Under a front page story “Published farm subsidies stir up debate”, which listed the top 20 Wi ..... 
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Fri, Dec 21st, 2001
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Fri, Dec 21st, 2001
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Fri, Dec 21st, 2001
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Fri, Dec 21st, 2001
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To the Editor,

The Amish have been involved in a serious accident. This could be a golden opportunity for Fillmore County to request that the Minnesota Supreme Court review their decision that the silver tape is a good substitute for an orang ..... 
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Submit a Letter to the Editorhere

Fri, Dec 21st, 2001
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To the Editor,
Monday, December 24, 2001

To the Editor,

On Dec. 15, 1995, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled to provide a state constitutional “right” to abortion. It also mandated taxpayers pay for abortion on demand - throug ..... 
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