Careful: Turtles crossing!

Planning to hit the road? Whether you’re driving 5 miles or 500, be on the lookout for turtles crossing the street.

During this time of year, female turtles leave their home ponds, wetlands, and lakes to make their nests and lay their eggs. Unfortunately, the places they choose for their nests may be across the road from their watery homes, and turtles are often struck by cars while on the move.

“Every year, thousands of turtles die while trying to start the next generation – in fact, roads are one of the greatest threats many turtles face. We need your help to save them!” Says Heidi Bock, Vice President of Conservation.

Heidi has some helpful hints for aiding travelling turtles while keeping yourself safe:

  • Safety first. Consider your surroundings – is the road narrow and windy? What is the speed limit? Can oncoming motorists see you? If it’s too dangerous to stop, carefully navigate around the turtle.
  • Be patient. If there’s no danger posed by stopping or slowing and no oncoming traffic, put on your hazard lights, stop, and let the turtle cross on its own.
  • If the turtle is in danger, help it move safely. Handle the turtle gently by grasping it around the sides of the shell. Do not grab a turtle by the tail and attempt to drag it. Snapping turtles can be a bit of a challenge, but can sometimes be nudged onto a box or towel and relocated that way.
  • If you need to intervene, trust the turtle’s sense. Keep the turtle moving in the direction it was headed. Do not take the turtle home with you, turn it around, or drop it off at a local pond you think it will like. Just help it cross the road. 
  • If you find an injured turtle, call a local wildlife rehabilitator for advice. The New York State DEC maintains a list of rehabilitators on their website.

Are you aware of a turtle crossing hotspot? Let CLC know by emailing [email protected] and we’ll share the information on social media so folks can be careful!

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