Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Motorists: Be Alert for Turtles Crossing Roadways

painted turtleThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is reminding the public that the state’s native turtles are on the move through June, seeking sandy areas or loose soil to lay their eggs.

In New York, thousands of turtles are killed each year when they are struck by vehicles while migrating to 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. Drivers should never swerve suddenly, and only stop and move turtles when it safe to do so and should never put themselves, their passengers, or others at risk.

Most turtles can be picked up by the side of their shells. Do not pick up a turtle by its tail. Picking the turtle up by its tail may frighten or injure the reptile.

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 native turtles into personal possession. All native turtles are protected by law and cannot be collected without a permit. Snakes can sometimes also be seen crossing or basking on the road. If safe to do so, please slow down and steer around them.

For more information on protecting turtles and other reptiles, visit DEC’s website.

Photo of painted turtle courtesy DEC.

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16 Responses

  1. Charlie S says:

    Unfortunately the people who should be reading this most likely don’t know this site exist and even more probable they don’t even know how to read. Mindlessness is rampant in this society to the detriment of animals crossing roads. Why just a few days ago I stopped for a big snapping turtle in the road on Rt. 2 near Eagle Mills. The timing was perfect me coming along when I did as I had enough time to pull over, jump out and stand next to this turtle so as to keep it from harm from hurry-up Joe or Mary who were just seconds behind and ahead as I took position near this impressive species. Turtles don’t know any better and you’d think humans would!

    First on the scene, in the same lane, was a middle-aged woman who seemed a lot impatient as I stood guard near this snapper. Within seconds of me interrupting her travels she pressed hard on her pedal and races by me with a disgusted look on her face. Poor woman! Poor animals on the road who happen to be in her path! After she passed everyone else stopped in both directions as I safely led this turtle down an embankment towards water below. I waved my hand in the air to all who stopped thankful that I was.

    Tis the season for roadkill.I saw a beautiful fox dead on this same road last week, dead porcupines, two of them just feet away from the other, possum, birds…. Saw a dead Canada goose on dirt Taconic Lake Road up on the Rensellaer Plateau just a few days ago. The same bird from a group of less than a dozen that I had been seeing for a few weeks in this same location.A dead goose because mindless people race by…….is why! Nothing less!

    Saw a dead Canada goose on 787 just a few hours ago, there’s been dead woodchucks……………….. the list is long of all the roadkill I see in my travels. Let us build more roads!

    • George says:

      You seem to be using the roads.

      • Charlie S says:

        What’s your point George?

        • George says:

          You are complaining about more roads, but you use them.

          • Suzanne Delaney says:

            Charlie is not “complaining” about the roads but the careless way drivers use them. Of course roads are necessary, but it’s not necessary to drive like a maniac, oblivious to any hapless creature that gets in the way.

    • Ginny A. says:

      Wonderful comment, Charlie S. Every year at this time I put a snow shovel and box in my truck. They are helpful when it comes to the big ole Snappers. Here where I live, running them over is great sport. Too many uneducated people. Same one’s that jack deer and hunt out of season.

      Funny story – about five years ago, we were up in Potsdam where I was taking a class at the college. On the way back to the motel one afternoon, there was a turtle in the middle of the inner lane of a four lane highway. My husband immediately put on his flashers and jumped out of the truck. After picking up the turtle to walk it in the direction he was heading, my husband’s shorts fell to the ground as he stood up. After the initial surprise, he leaned over put the turtle down for a second and recovered his drawers. Red faced, he continued his journey across the road to many honking horns and high fives. I always teased him that if he hadn’t gone on a diet, that would never have happened! In a way, though, I think a lot of people saw a good man doing a good deed that day. Hopefully, they learned from it.

      We live on a little backcountry windy road in the middle of nowhere. There are many wetlands and ponds along its five mile length, including ours. We used to have maybe ten cars a day go by. Now, for some reason that I have been unable to figure out, the traffic has increased to easily five times that amount. I don’t have a clue where they are coming from or where they’re going, but they fly through here. We live on a very tight ‘S’ curve, but that doesn’t deter anyone. One night, someone crashed into a tree on the other side of the road. Somehow they got out and took off. While we were in SC this winter, somebody took out our mailbox – cement filled milk can and all. We thought it was the plow, but our nearest neighbor said it was a private vehicle that did it. Why? Driving too fast. So, my point being that nobody will care if they run over anything. I walk every morning with my dogs and cringe at the road kill. I just can’t handle what will happen to “my” turtles this year. I fear they won’t stand a chance. You and I will do the best we can and hope that many others feel the same way. Take care, Charlie.

      • Charlie S says:

        >Thank you Ginny. It’s nice to know there’s people out there like you, people with a heart. Funny story about your husband. I had a rabbit die in my hands yesterday. The car ahead of me hit it. We do what we can do what else is there! I can only imagine things will get worse before they get better as nothing seems to be changing and as Daniel says below: “The world has gone and got itself in a big damn hurry.”

        “Too many uneducated people. ”
        > Yes. Or under-educated. I have often wondered why so many people are always happy….no matter what! Then I recall the old adage ‘Ignorance is bliss.’

        “We used to have maybe ten cars a day go by. Now, for some reason that I have been unable to figure out, the traffic has increased to easily five times that amount. I don’t have a clue where they are coming from or where they’re going, but they fly through here.”
        > I am reminded of a news story I read in the recent past where some town up here in the northeast was enforcing their laws reference to drivers who are led through quiet residential streets via their apps so as to get around the heavier traffic on the busier roads. It had become a major problem as residents noticed the uptick in traffic in their quiet neighborhood and the police caught on to it and started cracking down and even posting signs for these app users to see. (This could be why the increase in traffic in your quiet neighborhood?) I think they were apps! I’m not too familiar with all of the new gadgets but I have noticed strange patterns of behavior in humans who always seem to be attached to a device of one sort or another. Many of them seem to be in a zombie state.
        Thank you again!

        • JohnL says:

          Charlie, are you saying that police are posting signs telling people not to use residential streets? Unless they are a type of vehicle (heavy truck for instance) that is restricted, there is NO LAW saying people can’t take a short cut using ‘your’ street. I am an occasional….. gasp….’APP user’ and will continue to be one.

          • Charlie S says:

            The below is what I found online JohnL. There’s more but this gives you an synopsis of what I was talking about:

            “Smartphone apps like Waze, a godsend for some road warriors because they shave minutes and even hours off their commutes with their creative detours off main highways, are causing headaches for city planners.

            Using crosswalks, wider sidewalks and traffic lights, these transportation engineers aim to make neighborhood traffic slow, safe, and friendly for pedestrians — not send frustrated commuters barreling down side roads.

            But the GPS-enabled computer programs often don’t know that, or care. Their creators, such as Waze (owned by Google), are sympathetic, to a degree. They may give cities tips on how to effectively game the program so a neighborhood detour doesn’t seem that appealing. But at the end of the day, the purpose of the bots is to make use of all available road space, main thoroughfare or country lane.

            The upshot is mounting frustration from cities, which are trying to thwart computer systems that are savvier than ever……..”

  2. David Thomas-Train says:

    Snow shovels are a fairly effective tool for moving snappers. The may be too heavy to lift, but can more readily be dragged or slid in the direction they are already heading.

  3. Charlie S says:

    Of course I use roads George. I drive! I’m not mindless though! What’s your point and who’s complaining? I’m airing!


    As the actor in Shawshank Redemption movie said….The world has gone and got itself in a big damn hurry.

  5. JohnL says:

    Charlie S. I’ve missed you pal. I’m glad to see the turtle article got you out of your ‘shell’.

  6. Boreas says:

    Saw two painted turtles crossing yesterday after the deluge. Have only seen 1 snapper this year laying eggs (two weeks ago) – perhaps they are behind schedule with the cold water this year?

    • Boreas says:

      5 Snappers-a-layin’ today on the way to work. Unfortunately, this also coincides with highway mowing in our area – not good timing.