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Turtles of Wisconsin

Threats to Wisconsin Turtles

turtle crossing the road

Look out! Turtles often have to cross roads to
find nesting habitat. This can be hazardous to
their health.

If you had to guess what the biggest threat is to Wisconsin's turtles, what would you guess? If you said "habitat loss," you would be correct. Wisconsin has lost over half of its wetlands since European settlement. Urban sprawl, including the construction of new roads, permanently removes habitat. Turtles are no match for automobiles. Development around lakes and rivers also affects turtles. As shoreline habitat is developed there are fewer places for female turtles to nest. In order for populations of turtles to survive large areas of habitat that aren't broken up by development and roads must be available.

Another threat to turtles is the increasing number of medium-sized predators that eat turtle eggs, hatchlings, juveniles and adults. These predators include free-roaming cats and dogs, raccoons, skunks, and coyotes. In some areas turtle nest predation rates range from 90-100 percent. That doesn't leave very many young turtle survivors.

Five of Wisconsin's 11 turtle species are listed as endangered, threatened or of special concern. The recovery of many turtle populations is often slow. Turtles are slow to mature so it takes a long time for turtles to rebuild their populations--longer than most other animals. Blanding's turtles, which are endangered in Wisconsin, must live 17-20 years before they can breed. So, you can see how once turtle populations drop, it can be tough going to get them built up again.

There are some things that you can do to help protect Wisconsin's turtles. Click here to read "Ways you can help protect Wisconsin's turtles and lizards".

Read About More Reptiles >>



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