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Take time for turtles

  • ##Take time for turtles! Wisconsin’s next generation will soon be hatching, and DNR conservation biologists are asking for citizen help to make sure as many adult turtles and hatchlings survive the season as possible.

    Four of Wisconsin’s 11 native turtle species are endangered, threatened or “special concern” because of low or declining populations, including this young endangered ornate box turtle. Globally, turtles and tortoises are among the world's most endangered vertebrates, with about half of their more than 300 species threatened with extinction. Photo credit: Rori Paloski
  • ##Turtles leave wetlands, lakes and rivers in late May and June to move to upland sandy or gravel sites to lay eggs, and often get run over by cars on their way to the nest sites. Such road mortality is a leading cause of turtle mortality in Wisconsin for all turtle species, including painted turtles (Chrysemys picta) like this one here. The DNR is asking the public to report road crossing hot spots and other turtle sightings through the Wisconsin Turtle Conservation Program website. Citizen reports are used to address problem crossings to reduce the impact on turtle populations statewide.Photo credit: Rori Paloski
  • ##From 2012-2018, citizens have reported 1,959 turtle crossings throughout Wisconsin, 42 of which represent high, unsustainable levels of mortality that will eventually lead to population collapse, if kept unchecked.

    Some species of turtles, like the wood turtle, take 12 to 20 years to reach reproductive maturity, so the death of even a few turtles in a population can take a big toll. Photo credit: Andrew Badje
  • ##Thanks to citizen reports of a deadly turtle crossing near Stevens Point, DNR, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point were able to work together as Highway 66 was being reconstructed to add a wildlife underpass for turtles like this one to go through and safely reach the other side. That project has decreased turtle mortality at the site by 85 percent. Photo credit: Friends of the Plover River Turtles
  • ##A snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) crosses the road. Snapping turtles get a bad rap due to their aggressive nature when they are threatened on land. However, they are rather harmless when encountered by humans in the water, as they would rather get away or hide in their shell when approached. They are also beneficial in that they act as “garbage disposals,” by eating detritus and decaying matter throughout rivers, lakes, and wetlands statewide. Photo credit: Rori Paloski
  • ##New this year, NHC conservation biologists are asking citizens who have turtle nests on their property to help protect nests vulnerable to predators like raccoons and skunks. Citizens can build nest cages (16” X 16” X 8” with 1” X 2-3” mesh) to place over turtle nests on their property to keep predators away from the eggs. This effective cage design allowed 49 snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) hatchlings to hatch on their own, and seek out a safe wetland nearby. Learn more.Photo credit: Andrew Badje
  • ##Nest protection efforts in 2018 led to the release of numerous northern map turtle (Graptemys geographica) hatchlings into the Mississippi River. These efforts were undertaken to minimize the effects of high levels of nest predation and adult female road mortality near the city of La Crosse. Watch a field video showing these turtles being released.Photo credit: Andrew Badje
Last Revised: Tuesday April 16 2018