By Carolyn Millet. May 3rd, 2019 RIVERBANK FUN: Kingstown Public School students check out an adult turtle during the release morning. ANOTHER lucky bunch of eco guardians released another horde of baby Bell's turtles into the Macdonald River at Retreat yesterday. Kingstown Public School and local TAFE NSW students were among those who joined University of New England (UNE), Local Land Services (LLS) and other collaborators on the mission, putting dozens of the endangered hatchlings into the river. And that was a keenly sought-after and valued privilege, according to some of the groups involved. When the participating Tamworth Urban Landcare Group circulated an email, inviting contacts to take part in the release, there was a "very quick response", president Paul Moxon said. "We have about 15 people, and we were only looking for 12," he told the Leader ahead of yesterday morning's release. "Now I'm madly trying to organise a mini-bus." And 11 students from the local public school "each released one or two of the little hatchlings, so that was really awesome for them", principal Sharon Ryan said. "It was absolutely wonderful to go there and be connecting to community, sustainability and the environment; it was a wonderful opportunity." Turtles forever The staggered releases are part of a project being conducted by UNE environmental science researcher Louise Streeting. With eggs from 95 per cent of the short-necked turtles' nests being eaten by foxes, Ms Streeting is investigating strategies to rebuild juveniles' numbers in the wild. One is to incubate, hatch and rear the saw-shelled turtles in the lab, before releasing them back into the environment in which their mother was caught. The other is to use detection dogs to find nests in the wild, and cover those with wire mesh. That is sized, firstly, to keep foxes out and then to allow the turtles to make their way to the river after they've hatched. The release took place on the property of Mel Woods and Michael Rizzi, and their children Jake and Sam. Northern Tablelands LLS Bell's turtle project manager Martin Dillon said the work could not happen without support from such local farmers, who receive funding support to protect and restore habitat, and undertake year-round fox control. "We will be selecting more sites next spring, and interested landholders are encouraged to contact [LLS]," he said.