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May 5, 2015

MADISON - Spring has arrived, and wildlife enthusiasts will begin to see turtles on the move throughout Wisconsin. If you see a turtle crossing the road in Wisconsin, you can submit your findings and help future turtle conservation efforts.

As temperatures rise, more turtles will be out basking in the sun near their overwintering habitats, with some eventually moving to nearby wetlands. Between late May and early June, many females will instinctively migrate to sandy or gravelly uplands where they will lay eggs and make the return trip back to their native wetlands.

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Turtles are especially active from May through August, and motorists near wetlands should be extra cautious during this period. Coincidently, this timeframe is also when biologists observe the highest adult turtle mortality near roads. Road mortality is considered one of the leading causes of declining turtle numbers in Wisconsin, along with loss of suitable habitat and other factors.

To learn more, check out this video: [exit DNR]

Volunteers and citizen scientists throughout Wisconsin have dedicated themselves to conserving turtles, and look forward to another year of information sharing through the Wisconsin Turtle Conservation Program [exit DNR]. This reporting system allows citizens to contribute general turtle observations and nesting locations as well as the ability to submit photographs.

Submissions are reviewed and compiled by the department and used as a management tool to enhance and target future conservation actions on both a local and regional scale. The WTCP helps ensure turtle conservation dollars are well spent in Wisconsin.

The loss of even one adult female turtle can have a large effect on future population numbers and recruitment, especially in isolated populations or in species like the wood turtle that can take from 12 to 20 years to reach reproductive age. In addition, research has shown that as reproductive females gain experience through age, they become more successful in hatching higher percentages of young. Actions that prioritize the conservation of older adults, especially females, are an important step in sustaining turtle populations throughout Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has continued to partner with citizens, municipalities, universities, and road agencies including the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to achieve a sustainable transportation system that emphasizes the protection of humans, turtles, and other wildlife in a cost-effective manner.

A road resurfacing project in Stevens Point, set to begin in 2016, will allow turtles to cross underneath the road through a combination of fences and a specially designed culvert. In addition, a three-year UWSP study has been designed to track the seasonal movements of individual turtles, locate nesting areas, and determine the effectiveness of the added fencing and culvert.

If you encounter turtles on a roadway, remember these quick tips:

For more information regarding Wisconsin's turtles, visit, search keywords "wildlife habitat" and select "turtles," found under the herps section of the non-game species list. To submit your turtle observations, visit [exit DNR].

People can learn more about turtles during an online chat at noon on Thursday, June 11. To participate, visit the DNR home page,, and click on the graphic or search the phrase "ask the experts." You can also join the conversation via our Facebook page at by clicking the "Ask the Experts Chat" tab at the top of the page.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Andrew Badje, DNR conservation biologist, 608-266-3336

Last Revised: Tuesday, May 05, 2015

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