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Nesting season causes turtles to cross roadways

MNDNR_snapping turtle_road nest.jpg
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is reminding people that turtles, such as this Snapping Turtle, are now crossing roads moving to familiar nesting locations. Allowing turtles to cross the roads is vital to the preservation of regional populations. Roadway mortality is believed to be a major factor in turtle population declines throughout the United States. (Submitted photo)

Turtles have places to be.

And June means that it is time for turtles to take a journey to their nesting location, which will often lead them to cross roadways.

It is important that turtles make it safely to their nesting locations for the area to maintain a healthy turtle population, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Regional Non-game Wildlife Specialist Amy Westmark said on the phone with the Focus.

Turtles crossing roadways should be left alone to do so if they are not any danger. However, if a turtle does need to be moved out of a roadway they should be assisted only if it is safe to do so, Westmark said.

Those assisting smaller turtles, such as Blanding's or wood turtles, should be picked up by grabbing the midpoint of their shell, Westmark said. After the turtle has been picked up it should be moved in the direction that it was heading in and set free to go on its way once it is safely out of the roadway.

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Larger turtles, such as snapping turtles, should be left to go about their business unless assisting them is absolutely necessary as they can be more dangerous, Westmark said.

If assisting a snapping turtle across a roadway is necessary they should never be picked up by their tail, as doing so can damage their spines. They should instead be picked up by their back legs, Westmark said. The other option is to use a stick or shovel to prod them across or if they bite onto the object they can be dragged in the direction they were heading, Westmark said.

The DNR asks that anyone who assists a turtle crossing a roadway to document the assist on the DNR’s website, Westmark said.

For more information visit dnr.state.mn.us/reptiles_amphibians/helping-turtles-roads .

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