Forest district asks motorists to watch out for turtles

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County reminds drivers to be cautious in their travels to avoid harming turtles crossing roads.

In late spring and early summer, female turtles move to nesting sites to lay their eggs, journeys that can take them across busy roads. With hard shells, strong jaws and sharp claws, most turtles are well-protected from predators. But one threat they can’t combat is the automobile.

“Roads or no roads, turtles focus on one thing: getting to their nesting sites,” says Kevin Luby, a naturalist with the district’s Willowbrook Wildlife Center. “Honking horns or flashing lights won’t get them to change their course, so it’s up to drivers to be aware and avoid harming these animals.”

So what’s a turtle fan to do? If it’s possible to safely assist, a person can move the turtle across the road in the direction it was headed but should then let it be on its way. They shouldn’t turn the turtle around or take it to another location, as it will simply resume its original journey and face new dangers.

To move a turtle, a person should pick it up with both hands, one on either side of the animal’s body; lifting a turtle by the tail can damage its spinal cord. No one should ever pick up a snapping or spiny softshell turtle. These large species can become aggressive and bite when handled.

Luby cautions that no one should place themselves or other drivers in danger with an abrupt stop or a dash across a busy road. Instead, motorists should slow down and put on their flashers to alert other drivers. For a small turtle, a driver may be able to position the car so that the turtle passes safely between the tires below the center of the car.

Anyone who finds an injured turtle should consult Willowbrook Wildlife Center, 525 S. Park Blvd., Glen Ellyn. The center cares for injured native species and strives to rerelease them into wild spaces. Staff members answer questions daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 630-942-6200. After hours, an automated system provides information.

“Willowbrook has already admitted several turtles that have been struck by cars, and though our animal care staff may be able to treat cracked shells or minor injuries, many turtles never recover from the trauma,” Luby says. “It’s up to all of us on the roads to see that they can move around safely.”

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County owns and manages 25,000 acres of prairies, woodlands and wetlands. Each year its 60 forest preserves, 145 miles of trails, five education centers and scores of programs welcome more than 4 million visitors. For information, call 630-933-7200 or visit dupageforest.org.

Tags: ,

0 Comments




Modal