Turtles, roads a lethal combination


The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection reminds residents to be on the lookout for turtles crossing roads.

“May through July is nesting season for many turtles. At this time, egg-bearing females travel the land, and sometimes the roads, to find the perfect spot to dig a nest and lay eggs. Aquatic turtles also leave water in search of terrestrial nesting sites,” according to the agency.

“Connecticut’s landscape is very fragmented by busy roads, and many turtles are forced to travel great distances – and across roads – to find suitable nesting habitat,” said Division Director Jenny Dickson. DEEP Wildlife. “Helping a turtle cross the road can be the difference between life and death for the animal and for future generations, but your safety comes first. Only help a turtle on the road when you can. do so safely and do not try to stop traffic.

“Research has shown that turtle populations across the United States have unusually high proportions of males because so many female turtles are killed on the roads,” Dickson said.

Help the turtles safely

Always keep the turtle pointed in the direction it is heading. If you flip it the other way, the turtle will just make another attempt to cross the road. Also, DO NOT move the turtle to a “better place” and DO NOT put terrestrial box turtles in a lake, pond, or other body of water – leave the turtle in the same area it was found once. once it is pulled off the road. . Turtles have one home range, and females often return to the same general area to lay their eggs. Snapping turtles can be big, heavy and feisty, so if you can’t “pull” them across the road, pick them up by the back of their shell over their legs and tail, NOT by their tail, to avoid a bite. Some people use a shovel, stick, or even car mats to push or skid Snapping Turtles down the road.

Turtles are long-lived, take a long time to reach sexual maturity, and have low survival when newly hatched. Because of these attributes, turtle populations cannot compensate for losses from adult mortality without suffering long-term consequences. Since turtle populations require high levels of adult survival, each individual, especially the adult female, is important to the stability of a population. This concern is even greater in recent years as many American turtle populations become increasingly fragmented, isolated, and progressively smaller.

On your travels, if you encounter a turtle on the road, just remember this motto: “Give turtles a ‘brake’ and help them cross if it’s safe.” » If you know of a certain section of road in your area where large numbers of turtles regularly cross, please notify the Wildlife Division by emailing, with location information, to [email protected] .

Keep wild turtles wild

Don’t be tempted to collect a turtle for a while, including keeping it as a pet. Turtles should be left in the wild.

“The removal of individual turtles from the wild, including hatchlings, can have a huge impact on the local population,” Dickson added. “Each individual is important for the stability of the population.”

Keep in mind that caring for a pet turtle is not as easy as you might think. Turtles require specific temperatures, diet, and lighting for digestion and shell health. Cages should be kept clean as turtles can carry salmonella. Additionally, turtles are long-lived – 50 to 100 years for an Eastern Box Turtle (the collection and possession of which is illegal in Connecticut).

Once the novelty of having a turtle as a pet wears off, the owner is faced with a decision on what to do with it. “Captive turtles, whether collected from the wild or purchased from a pet store, should never be released into the wild,” Dickson stressed. “Released turtles rarely survive, frequently introduce respiratory or other undetectable illnesses into wild populations, and, in the case of non-native species, can harm native turtle populations.”

The best way to appreciate turtles is to observe them in their natural habitat. Help keep wild turtles wild and leave them where you find them. Instead of collecting turtles, take pictures instead.

Participate in the week of the wild turtle

The CT DEEP Wildlife Division will partner with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC), and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) during Wild Turtle Week May 23-27, 2022. Look for information and photos about our Connecticut Fish and Wildlife

Visit www.facebook.com/CTFishandWildlife) or Instagram www.instagram.com/ctfishandwildlife/ and share your turtle photos with the DEEP. Those interested in learning more about Connecticut’s turtles can visit DEEP’s Turtles webpage at https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP/Wildlife/Learn-About-Wildlife/Turtles-of-Connecticut

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