Turtles crossing roads to nest
Why did the turtle cross the road?
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is asking people to leave turtles alone as the turtles cross roads to reach nesting areas.
Each year at this time, many female turtles move from lakes, ponds, wetlands, rivers and streams to nesting areas, where they deposit their eggs in self-excavated nests.
Unfortunately, many nesting areas are separated from the turtles’ wintering areas by roads they cross as they make their way to nests.
“Many turtles and other species are killed on Minnesota roads each year, especially during the nesting season,” said Carol Hall, DNR herpetologist.
People can help reduce turtle road death in these ways:
- Allow unassisted road crossings. When turtles can safely cross roads unaided due to a lack of oncoming traffic, allow them to do so. Observe from a distance and avoid rapid movements. Doing otherwise may cause turtles to change direction, stop, or seek shelter within their shells.
- Avoid excessive handling. Excessive handling can disrupt normal behavior. Prolonged examination of turtles should be limited to only one or two turtles of each species.
- Maintain travel direction. Always move turtles in the same direction they were traveling when encountered. Turtles should always be moved across roadways in as direct a line as possible.
- People who see a turtle or other animal on the road, should slow down, and safely drive around it. Many people want to help turtles cross the road but the best approach is to let the turtle cross on its own. There are nine turtle species in the state, some of which are protected.
For more information on Minnesota turtles: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/reptiles_amphibians/turtles/index.html.