Tips on how to help turtles cross the road

Kelly J. Kaczala

         Roadway mortality is thought to be a major factor in turtle population declines throughout the United States. Unlike the chicken, turtles aren't just trying to get to the other side, but actually have someplace to go, according to the Mid-Atlantic Turtle & Tortoise Society.
        During the early summer, many female turtles cross roads bearing eggs, moving toward familiar nesting areas. Semi-aquatic turtles can have seasonal movements between different wetland habitats. Hatchlings in roadways can be looking for ponds and backwater to serve as their permanent home.
If you help a turtle cross a road, the Mid-Atlantic Turtle & Tortoise Society has these tips:
        •Don’t put yourself or others in danger. Simply pulling off the road and turning on your hazard lights may alert other drivers to slow down. Be aware of your surroundings and traffic;
        •Avoid excessive handling. While wanting to examine turtles closely is hard to resist, excessive handling can disrupt their normal behavior;
        •Allow unassisted road crossings. If there’s no oncoming traffic, let the turtle cross the road without help. Observe from a distance and avoid sudden movements that may startle it. Otherwise, the turtle may change direction, stop, or seek shelter within its shell;
        •Handle turtles gently. Be careful not to drop it, as impact with the pavement could be fatal;
        •Maintain direction of travel. Always move a turtle in the same direction it was traveling when you saw it. Place the turtle at least 30 feet from the road (not on the roadside), so if it is startled, the turtle will not get disoriented and accidentally run back into the roadway and get struck by a vehicle. Turtles should always be moved across roadways in as direct a line as possible. You might be tempted to help the turtle by moving it to a wooded area or water body, but the correct solution is to quickly move the turtle to the shortest distance possible.
        According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, do not pick the turtle up by the tail. Some turtles may be frightened and try to bite. It could also injure the turtle to pick it up by the tail. You can safely help a snapping turtle in the road by getting it to walk onto your car mat, a piece of cardboard or towel and then drag to the other side.
        If you must handle them, carefully hold them at the back of the shell near the back legs and walk it forward. Do not pick up a snapping turtle on the sides. Snapping turtles have very long necks and can bite your hands if you place them at the sides of the shell. Another option is to get the snapping turtle to bite a long stick and drag it gently across the road.
        If you see an injured turtle, even if it appears severely injured, take it to a wildlife rehab center. Turtles can heal from severe injuries. They have an extremely low metabolism and can take days or weeks to die.



The Press

The Press
1550 Woodville Road
Millbury, OH 43447

(419) 836-2221

Email Us

Facebook Twitter

Ohio News Media Association