SAYVILLE, NY (PIX11) — A recent discovery of dead turtle hatchlings at one of Long Island’s historic landmarks has animal activists searching for answers.

The gruesome discovery has led one local animal advocacy organization to urge county authorities to act. The devastation could have significant  impacts on our environment. 

Remnants of turtle eggs were strewn all over the Meadow Croft Estate in Sayville, NY. During nesting season, female turtles will travel out of the water about a ¼ of a mile to an area that’s slightly higher than sea level to lay their eggs. Normally about the size of a ping pong ball, these eggs were crushed by lawn mowers operated by Suffolk County workers here at the property. 

Hundreds of the hatchlings were on their way to Brown Creek; they were just feet from safety when they were tragically run over. 

According to the Department of Environmental Conservation, as many as 90 percent of turtle nests may be destroyed in a season due to predators. However, NY State Wildlife Rehabilitation, KarenLynn Stracher says that’s not the case this time. She says the devastating incident could have been easily avoided.

“There were eyewitnesses here who attempted to speak to the people with the lawnmowers to alert them that there were hatchlings over the lawn and they were told at the time that they had to mow the lawn, this was their job, and they have the to finish the process,” says Starcher. 

We weren’t able to speak with any eye witnesses. However, we did speak with wildlife animal rescuer Karen Maloney, who came across the area just after it happened and was able to save the surviving baby turtles.

“I did find 10 alive,” she said.

Making efforts to protect them moving forward will ensure the survival of the species. After all, turtles play an important role in protecting our environment by keeping our waterways clean. 

If the county fails at hatching a plan to preserve these aquatic species, anthrozoologist and Humane Long Island anthrozoologist John Di Leonardo says, “We will be forced to protest and launch a full scale campaign to make sure these animals remain protected.”

We reached out to the Suffolk county Parks Department A spokesperson tells us:

“Suffolk cares deeply about all wildlife living on County property and we do our best to protect all species at all times. We are aware of the situation at Meadow Croft Estate and staff has been deployed to investigate the site. Going forward we will be working with experts to determine any adjustments that could be made to prevent something like this from happening in the future.”