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State Warns Bridgeport Motorists To Watch For Turtles On Roads

May through June is a critical period when female turtles undertake risky overland forays to reach nesting areas. During this time, they often cross roads, sometimes with fatal consequences.
May through June is a critical period when female turtles undertake risky overland forays to reach nesting areas. During this time, they often cross roads, sometimes with fatal consequences. Photo Credit: Paul J. Fusco/DEEP Wildlife Division

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, CONN. — Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is reminding residents to be on the lookout for turtles crossing roads. This is the nesting season egg-bearing aquatic turtles often cross roads in search of terrestrial nesting sites.

“Connecticut’s landscape is highly fragmented by busy roads, and many turtles are forced to travel great distances – and across roadways – to find suitable nesting habitat,” said Rick Jacobson, Director of the DEEP Wildlife Division. “Helping a turtle move across the road can be the difference between life and death for the animal, and for future generations, but your safety comes first. Be sure to assist a turtle in the road only when it is safe to do so and do not attempt to stop traffic.”

“Research has shown that aquatic turtle populations across the United States have uncommonly high proportions of males because so many female turtles are being killed on roadways,” said Jacobson.

In your travels, if you encounter a turtle in the road, DEEP says: “If it is safe, help turtles cross the road.” DEEP is also encouraging residents to take photographs of any turtles they observe and share them on the CT Fish and Wildlife Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CTFishandWildlife . To learn more about Connecticut’s turtles, visit the DEEP’s turtle webpage at www.ct.gov/deep/yearofturtle .

When assisting turtles, always keep the turtle pointed in the direction it is going, DEEP said. If you turn it around in the other direction, the turtle will only make another attempt to cross the road. Also, DO NOT move the turtle to a “better spot,” and DO NOT put terrestrial box turtles in a lake, pond, or other water body. Turtles have a home range and females often return to the same general area to lay their eggs, DEEP said.

Snapping turtles can be large, heavy, and feisty, so if you are unable to “shoo” them across the road, pick them up by the back of their shells, NOT by their tail, to avoid a bite, DEEP said. Some people use a shovel or a stick to push or skid snapping turtles across the road.

Turtles have a long lifespan, take a long time to reach sexual maturity, and have low survivorship when newly hatched. Because of these attributes, turtle populations cannot compensate for losses due to adult mortality without experiencing long-term consequences, DEEP said. With turtle populations requiring high levels of adult survivorship, every individual is important to a population’s stability. This concern is even greater in recent years because many U.S. turtle populations are becoming fragmented, isolated, and progressively smaller.

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