NEW YORK STATE (WROC) — New York is rich with wildlife, and some are slower than others. Which is why the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation encourages you to “give the turtles a brake” and let them cross the cross the road safely.
Kathleen O’Brien a Wildlife Biologist with the NYSDEC notes that New York is home to 11 different species of turtles, many of which have dwindling populations.
“[We] have several species that are endangered. Some of them have less need to cross roads than others but most of them do. At some point they have to cross roads,” said O’Brien.
During May and June turtles are in nesting season, meaning they have to move away from their normal habitats to find a suitable place to lay their eggs. This can often mean putting themselves in harms way to do so as humans continue to move into their ecosystem.
“They live in wetlands or streams and lakes but they can’t lay their eggs in the water so they have to get up to where it’s dry. They have to get to areas where they can actually dig into the ground and make a nest and then cover it over and get back down into the water,” said O’Brien
In our area, snapping turtles are one of the more common turtles. They’re one of the larger species in the state and can be identified by their big beak and claws.
“Spotted turtles are pretty widespread too, and the painted turtles they’re they’re most are most common turtles and they’re spread out in almost any kind of ponds rivers,” said O’Brien
If you’re comfortable too, you can help the turtle across the street as well.
Just remember, with any turtle but a snapping turtle especially, you want to grab it from the middle of the shell and back.
“If you have parked your car in a safe place where you’re not going to get hit and you’re not running over anything else, what you want to do is is help the turtle in the direction it was going,” said O’Brien. “It’s always good to try to handle any turtles from as far back from their heads as possible.”
Another recommended way to move a bigger turtle if you don’t feel comfortable lifting it, is to get it on a shovel or floor mat from your car and drag it to the side of the road.