Motorists Reminded to Use Caution to Avoid Turtles This Spring

News Release


Motorists Reminded to Use Caution to Avoid Turtles This Spring

Females Crossing Roads En Route to Nesting Sites

(April 25, 2018) — The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County reminds drivers to watch for turtles on the roads as these reptiles become more active in the spring.

From April through October turtles cross roads in search of water, food, mates or nests. Female crossings increase in particular from mid-May to mid-July as the turtles make their way to and from nesting sites.

“In order for their eggs to survive, turtles must find just the right spot for their nests,” said District ecologist Dan Thompson. “Some turtles must travel up to a mile to find the right conditions.”

Despite their hard shells, turtles cannot protect themselves from vehicles they may encounter on the way. The loss of one adult turtle can be significant because at least 90 percent of adults must survive each year to sustain a population.

For instance, if a 30-year-old female Blanding’s turtle dies, it’s more than the demise of one individual. A Blanding’s turtle can lay a dozen or more eggs each year and live to be 70 or 80, so the loss of that one female can mean 500 fewer eggs for the overall population.

“Turtles are not able to move quickly to avoid a car, so it’s up to drivers to avoid hitting them,” Thompson said. “Horns and flashing lights don’t faze them, so it’s up to attentive drivers to be aware and try to avoid hitting these animals.”

Blandings-turtle-PaulHurtado

Blanding's turtle Image by Paul Hurtado/CC BY-SA 2.0

Motorists can avoid turtles simply by following the rules of the road. Focus on driving, don’t speed, and leave plenty of room between cars so turtles can be seen. Drivers should never place themselves or others in danger by stopping abruptly on busy roads.

DuPage County is home to a variety of native turtle species, including musk, snapping, eastern spiny softshell, common map, painted and the state-endangered Blanding’s.

“In DuPage County, roads built near lakes, ponds and marshes can be turtle-crossing hot spots,” said Forest Preserve District of DuPage County President Joe Cantore. “It’s important for us to be good stewards and do our part to help these animals.”

Anyone who finds an injured turtle should consult the Forest Preserve District’s Willowbrook Wildlife Center. Located at 525 S. Park Blvd. in Glen Ellyn, the center cares for injured native wildlife in DuPage County and strives to return them to the wild.
Employees and volunteers are available to answer questions daily 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. at 630-942-6200. After hours, an automated system provides information.
 
The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County has been connecting people to nature for more than 100 years. More than 4 million people visit its 60 forest preserves, 145 miles of trails, five education centers and scores of programs each year. For information, call 630-933-7200 or visit dupageforest.org, where you can also link to the District’s e-newsletter, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

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