Motorists Reminded To Use Caution To Avoid Turtles This Spring
Female turtles crossing roads in search of nesting sites
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, streets near lakes, ponds, and marshes can be frequent crossing sites for turtles in search of water, food, and mates. Mid-May to mid-July, females may travel even further away from the water to find just the right spot to dig their nests.
“Turtles aren’t able to move quickly to avoid cars, so it’s up to drivers to avoid hitting them,” said District ecologist Dan Thompson. “Car horns and flashing lights have no effect on turtles; they simply can’t move any faster to get out of the way.”
Motorists can avoid turtles by following basic rules of the road, including focusing on driving, following the speed limit, and not tailgating. Drivers should never stop abruptly on busy roads.
Despite their hard shells, turtle bodies have little protection from injury. The loss of one adult turtle is significant to the overall population. For example, a 30-year-old state-endangered female Blanding’s turtle can lay a dozen or more eggs each year and live 70 or 80 years. The loss of that one female would mean the loss of the 500 or more hatchlings she would have produced in her remaining life. To make matters worse, hatchlings have low survival rates, and those that survive take 14 to 20 years to reach sexual maturity. In effect, at least 90% of adult Blanding’s turtles must survive each year to simply sustain the population.
Anyone who finds an injured turtle should consult the Forst Preserve District’s Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn, which provides care and medical treatment to injured, orphaned, and sick native wild animals. The animal admittance area is open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily, but people are asked to call 630-942-6200 before heading to the center.
DuPage County is home to a variety of native turtle species, including musk, snapping, eastern spiny softshell, common map, painted, and Blanding’s.
The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County has been connecting people to nature for more than 100 years. More than 5.5 million people visit its 60 forest preserves, 166 miles of trails, seven 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 and Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok pages.
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