This June, you may see more than one turtle crossing the road in the Adirondacks. That’s because it’s nesting season, and the area’s female turtles are searching for sandy areas to lay their eggs. To help protect our reptile friends, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is encouraging motorists to use caution and avoid hitting turtles on the road.
It’s Turtle Nesting Season
Starting in May and throughout the month of June, female turtles across New York State and the Adirondack Park are looking for the best place to lay and bury their eggs. After digging a nest in sandy ground, soil, or vegetation debris, turtles will lay their eggs and then leave the babies behind to hatch.
During nesting season, turtles are not only more active, but some may even make their nest right on the side of the road if the ground is suitable. Both of these factors make this time of year much more dangerous for these slow moving reptiles.
Why Turtles Need Our Help
The four most common turtles in the Adirondacks are the snapping turtle, the painted turtle, the spotted turtle, and the wood turtle. In New York State, there are 11 native species of land turtles, and each population is currently in decline.
The problem is that while turtles are migrating to a nesting site in May and June, thousands are killed when they are struck by moving vehicles. The loss of breeding female turtles can have a major impact on turtle populations, and it’s the main reason for the decline.
What You Can Do
The DEC is asking motorists to keep an eye out for turtles on the road and use caution. While you shouldn’t swerve quickly or leave your lane, it’s recommended to do your best to avoid hitting one.
If possible, you can also pull over to the side of the road and help move the turtle. Here are three quick tips for moving a turtle:
- Move the turtle across the road in the direction it is facing
- Do not pick a turtle up by the tail; instead, gently lift it from the sides of its shell
- Be wary of snapping turtles; to help a snapping turtle cross the road, either pick it up from the rear of the shell with two hands, or slide a car mat under the turtle and drag it across the road
Never take a wild turtle home with you as a pet. New York State turtles are protected by law and may not be taken without a permit.
Let’s help out our slow moving friends this month!