DNR: How to help protect turtles during nesting season

Courtesy of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

WISCONSIN – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is encouraging the public to help nesting turtles by following a few easy actions throughout the nesting season.

This time of year, turtles emerge from rivers, lakes and wetlands to find a spot for their nests. Wisconsin’s 11 turtle species lay eggs in shallow, buried nests from late May through June, where they are often along roads and in residential yards.

Drivers can help reduce turtle road mortality – a leading cause of turtle decline throughout Wisconsin – by being mindful when driving near swamps, lakes and rivers.

“When turtles are more active during nesting season, they face added risks,” said Andrew Badje, DNR Conservation Biologist. “Some are run over by vehicles, while others face predation from raccoons, skunks and coyotes. Some protected species are also taken illegally from the wild and sold in the illegal pet trade. Protecting adult females and turtle nests in the wild is essential for conserving Wisconsin turtle populations.”

Here are some ways Wisconsinites can help turtles from now through July:

  • Protect nests: Follow instructions (www.tinyurl.com/mu5245z7) and a step-by-step video (www.tinyurl.com/42bnv4ns) on how to build a nest cage that keeps predators out and allows hatchlings to exit on their own.
  • Drive cautiously: Slow down, be alert and reduce distractions, especially on roads near wet areas, lakes and rivers.
  • Share your sightings: Report turtle observations, road crossings and nest sites using the DNR’s Reporting Form (www.tinyurl.com/2wu9t89h) to help DNR manage and conserve turtles more effectively. You can also report suspicious illegal activity associated with turtles to the DNR’s Violation Hotline online or by calling or texting 800-847-9367.
  • Keep Wildlife Wild: Help protect Wisconsin’s native turtles by keeping wild turtles in the wild and not releasing pet turtles.
  • Donate: DNR conservation efforts for endangered and threatened species wouldn’t be possible without support from the Endangered Resources Fund.

Learn more about turtles in Wisconsin on the Turtle Conservation Program webpage at www.wiatri.net/inventory/witurtles/.

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