Sunday, June 11, 2017

DEC Advises Motorists to Be Alert for Turtles Crossing the Road

painted turtleThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has reminded the public that the state’s native turtles are on the move in seeking sandy areas or loose soil to lay their eggs. Drivers that see a turtle on the road should use caution and should not swerve suddenly or leave their lane of travel, but take care to avoid hitting turtles while driving.

In New York, thousands of turtles are killed each year when they are struck by vehicles as the turtles migrate to their nesting areas. New York’s 11 native species of land turtles are in decline, and turtles can take more than 10 years to reach breeding age. The reptiles lay just one small clutch of eggs each year, which means the loss of a breeding female can have a significant effect on the local turtle population. 

This time of year, it is especially important to be on the lookout for turtles and to drive cautiously, particularly on roads near rivers and marshy areas. If a turtle is spotted on the road or near the shoulder, drivers should safely stop their vehicle and consider moving the turtle to the side of the road in the direction the reptile is facing.

Picking the turtle up by its tail may frighten or injure the reptile. Most turtles can be picked up by the side of their shells, but it’s important to use extreme caution when moving snapping turtles; either pick the turtle up at the rear of the shell near the tail using two hands, or slide a car mat under the turtle to drag the turtle across the road.

Do not take the turtle into personal possession. All native turtles are protected by law and cannot be collected without a permit.

For more information, visit DEC’s website.

Photo: Painted Turtle, courtesy DEC.

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13 Responses

  1. Tim-Brunswick says:

    I live in Brunswick, near Troy and off of Route 7, which is an extremely busy State Highway and last week the urge to “save” a huge snapper almost cost a couple their lives and could have caused a tragic accident.

    They had pulled their vehicle onto the shoulder of the Highway and were literally jumping around in the center of the Highway trying to move the turtle which naturally was trying to bite them. We had to turn into our driveway, but as we did the woman was screaming and the young man with her was darting about like a jumping jack to avoid the Snapper’s jaws. All the while heavy traffic was buzzing by them.

    Sometime animal rescue gets carried away………

  2. Charlie S says:

    I stop for all turtles, snappers, painted, box… This is the time of the year they like to commit suicide. On Rt. 9 near Round Lake, on the west side of the road, I’ve been seeing a grand daddy snapper moldering away in the heat as I drive to Saratoga Springs each morning. The thing is huge. To imagine a turtle taking all those years to get that big and along comes hurry-up Joe or Mary to run it over. There’s no way you couldn’t have seen this guy.The turtles…and skunks, coons, squirrels, rabbits, etc, don’t have a chance what with all of the mindless masses driving on the roads. How sad!

    • Paul says:

      This is an interesting comment. Perhaps there would not be a need for a road if you didn’t need to drive on it each day? Then the turtle would be safe – We are all part of the masses in this case. Someone who is being careful can easily accidentally run over one of the animals you describe.

      In the case of snapping turtles they especially love the dirt roads that we build near wetlands. The sides are the perfect place to lay eggs.

    • Boreas says:


      Many of these people are not necessarily “mindless” – just that their minds are somewhere else – not with them in the car driving. Same reason they can run into another automobile or the back of a dump truck. They see but don’t SEE. FWIW, I’ll stop and move them if safe/possible.

      • Charlie S says:

        Boreas. This is a mindless society…unless proven otherwise.

        • Paul says:

          Today’s daily dose of pessimism from Charlie S.

          I am lucky I get to work each day with some of the best young minds in the country so I always see the glass as half full.

          Charlie look on the bright side once an a while. That old turtle didn’t get old by chance he or she has had good luck for years hopefully it will continue.

          Seeing a great deal of reproductive activity this year near my camp. The turtles have once again dug up the sand bank behind my camp for their eggs. Looks like they had a small bulldozer! They are surrounded by a river and a wetland. Land I own that will never be developed they hopefully will never see a car if they are lucky and stick close. So Charlie at least you can be sure that there they will be as safe as a turtle can be in the wild.

          Keep moving them off the road I do the same thing when I can as well.

      • JohnL says:

        Just curious Boreas. Why do you feel obligated to explain/apologize for/rationalize things that Charile says. Charlie was very clear earlier when he said in a post that appears to have been deleted that he will stop in the middle of a busy high speed road, put on his flashers, and jeopardize not only himself but other travelers to save a turtle. That’s just crazy.

        • Boreas says:


          That wasn’t my intention – just a comment. I was just responding to Charlie stating that I didn’t think the people he mentioned in general are malevolent or heartless – just don’t always have their head in the game when driving.

          Some of us pay more attention to reptiles and amphibians than others. Many species are having a tough time living near humans. Sometimes on a rainy night I’ll change my route home from work to avoid wetlands so that I don’t kill 50-100 frogs with my car. Others could care less. Not being judgemental, just stating my feelings.

  3. Charlie S says:

    “All the while heavy traffic was buzzing by them.”

    I would have stopped in the lane and put my flashers on. Cars would have to stop then. I’ve done this numerous times. You have to know how to play the game with mindless people Tim.

  4. JohnL says:

    I’m sorry, but no turtle, or any other animal for that matter, is worth a persons life, even one of those awful members of the mindless masses.

  5. Charlie s says:

    “Today’s daily dose of pessimism from Charlie S.”

    I’m like the optimist who fell ten stories Paul…at each window bar he shouted to his friends, ‘Alright so far.’ I know people who only wish to talk about the good Paul. ‘Good’ only! As if there were nothing else. Throw them a little bit of grim reality and they shrivel up, they start with accusations such as ‘You’re negative!’ or ‘I don’t want to talk about this!’ or……
    You remind me of them.

    At one time I thought this was wholly a conservative thing because these people were the types that had ‘Bush/Cheney’ bumper stickers on their cars or other signs indicative of that group, but I have found since that some so-called liberals are close-minded also (not nearly as much as the former group though) and can only go so far in speaks before they irk me with words suggestive of censure. People with free-flowing thoughts sure have a hard time in this society I must say Paul… How do I know? You’d have to be there to understand.

    And when I say ‘this is a mindless society’ there are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. When you say you get to work with some of the best young minds in the country I relate because I’ve worked with them also, and I meet them in my travels. Progressive’s I call them and it is people like them that give me a sense of hope though I still have my doubts because there’s so much of the other and the things I see every day!

    I’m not giving up but i’m also not going to shut up which you have oftentimes suggested I do. There’s that something in you that wants to collide with that something in me Paul and it don’t take but choice words for you to get started. Vice versa the same goes for me. I suppose there’s such a thing as give and take but I cannot imagine myself putting on blinders Paul. And i’ll be damned if I have to start worrying about every little thing I say because of the near-sightedness in others including you.

    Surely you’re a good man Paul. I have no reason to think other than. I just take it that your angle of vision is different than mine tis all.

  6. Charlie s says:

    Paul also says: “Charlie look on the bright side once an a while. That old turtle didn’t get old by chance he or she has had good luck for years hopefully it will continue.”

    It was moldering in the heat Paul. It was dead!

  7. Charlie S says:

    JohnL said: “Charlie was very clear earlier when he said in a post that he will stop in the middle of a busy high speed road…”

    I’m not crazy and i’m not foolish either JohnL I never said I would stop in the middle of a high speed busy road. I know I stopped on Rt. 22 once up in Washington County for a big snapper turtle up near Lake Lauderdale north of Cambridge. By the time I drove up to this turtle other cars had kept going so I stopped in my lane, put my flashers on and saw to it that this turtle made it to the lake. Cars were starting to back up but it wasn’t like it was a busy highway, and nobody honked or griped. You never know! Maybe my actions instilled in someone else the motivation to do the same thing somewhere down their roads. I’ve done this several times and I like when I see someone else doing the same which seems to be a rare thing though I know it must happen.

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