The Minnesota DNR is reminding motorists to watch out for turtles crossing roadways on their way to nesting locations.

Roadway mortality can be a factor in turtle population declines. Turtles crossing roadways should be left alone if they are not in any danger, however if a turtle does need to be moved out of a roadway the DNR suggests that they be moved in the direction the turtle was heading.

Most turtles can be picked up safely by the shell, but snapping turtles and leatherbacks have long necks and a mean bite, so they should be grasped by a hind leg and supported underneath with your other hand. Don’t pick up snappers by the tail, it often damages their spine, according to a DNR news release.

Although pre-dating dinosaurs by several million years, turtles everywhere are fast disappearing today. The “hide in my shell and wait it out” strategy that has enabled turtles to weather the geologic changes leading to the extinction of countless other species, however, has proven of little use in surviving the peril posed by fast moving trucks and cars.Roadway mortality is believed to be a major factor in turtle population declines throughout the United States.