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News Release

Motorists Reminded to Use Caution to Avoid Turtles This Spring

Females crossing roads in search of nesting sites

The DuPage Forest Preserve District 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 and nests. Female crossings increase especially from mid-May to mid-July as the turtles make their way to and from nesting sites.

“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,” so adult females looking for nesting sites can cross roads a good distance from bodies of water.

Despite their hard shells, turtles cannot protect themselves from being hit by vehicles. The loss of one adult turtle can be significant because at least 90% of adults must survive each year to sustain a population. If the rate drops below this number, the population will be in decline.

For example, if a 30-year-old female Blanding’s turtle dies, it’s more than the loss of one individual. A Blanding’s turtle can lay a dozen or more eggs each year and live 70 or 80 years, so losing one female means losing the 500 or more hatchlings she would have produced in her remaining life, which is significant.

To make matters worse, hatchlings have low survival rates, and those that survive take 14 to 20 years to reach sexual maturity. So adults are needed to ensure enough young are produced to sustain the population.

“Turtles aren’t able to move quickly to avoid a car, so it’s up to drivers to avoid hitting them,” Thompson said. “Car horns and flashing lights will have no effect on turtles; they simply can’t move any faster to get out of the way. Drivers should pay attention and do what they can to avoid hitting these animals.”

Motorists can avoid turtles simply by following the rules of the road. Focus on driving, don’t speed or tailgate, and stay off your phone. Leave plenty of room between cars so you can see turtles. Drivers should never place themselves or others in danger by stopping abruptly on busy roads.

Willowbrook resident wildlife specialist Alicia Biewer demonstrates how to safely help a snapping turtle cross the road in this Facebook video.

Roads near lakes, ponds and marshes can be turtle-crossing hotspots, so it helps to be particularly vigilant while driving in these areas. These locations will be active outside of nesting season as males and females may cross to access other foraging areas or search for mates throughout the growing season.

Anyone who finds an injured turtle should consult the Forst 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. Willowbrook accepts wildlife patients 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily but call 630-942-6200 first before going.

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.

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County has been connecting people to nature for more than 100 years. More than 6.2 million people visit its 60 forest preserves, 166 miles of trails, six education centers and scores of programs each year. For information, call 630-933-7200 or visit, where you can also link to the District’s e-newsletter, FacebookTwitter, Instagram and TikTok pages.