DEC asks drivers to be watch out for turtles crossing the road
Press Release, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today reminded New Yorkers that turtles are nesting in May and June, and asked motorists to “give turtles a brake.”
In New York, thousands of turtles are killed each year by unsuspecting drivers when turtles cross roads to find nesting areas.
“While a turtle’s shell provides protection from predators, it does not protect against being struck by vehicles while crossing roadways,” Seggos said. “Vehicle strikes are a major cause of mortality among turtles and New York’s native turtles are more susceptible at this time of year as they seek sandy areas or loose soil in which to lay their eggs. Especially in these coming weeks, DEC urges New York drivers to be on the lookout for turtles and slow down, particularly on roads near rivers and marshy areas.”
Drivers who see a turtle on the road are encouraged to slow down to avoid hitting it with their vehicle. If the vehicle can safely stop, motorists should consider moving the turtle to the shoulder on the side of the road in the direction it was facing, if drivers are able to safely do so.
Motorists are advised not to pick turtles up by their tails, which could injure the turtle. Most turtles, other than snapping turtles, can be picked up safely by the sides of their shell.
Snapping turtles have necks that can reach far back and have a strong bite, so if motorists try to help a snapping turtle, they should pick it up by the rear of the shell near the tail using both hands or slide a car mat under the turtle to drag it safely across the road. Do not drag the turtle by the tail as that can dislocate the tail bones.
A licensed wildlife rehabilitator may be able to help if you find an injured turtle.
DEC reminds people not to take turtles home. All native turtles are protected by law and cannot be kept without a DEC permit.
All 11 species of land turtles native to New York are in decline. Turtles are long-lived species and it takes many years for a turtle to reach maturity. Even losing one mature female can have a negative impact on a local population.