DNR: Be alert for turtles and their nests

Picture of a Wood Turtle (Glyptemys insculpta), a Threatened Species in Wisconsin. (A.B....
Picture of a Wood Turtle (Glyptemys insculpta), a Threatened Species in Wisconsin. (A.B. Sheldon for Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources).(A.B. Sheldon | A.B. Sheldon / Wisconsin DNR)
Published: May. 30, 2022 at 10:06 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Wisconsin wildlife officials are asking people to be a little extra cautious around the state’s turtle population over the next several weeks.

From late May through June, turtles across the Badger State will start crawling out from the rivers, lakes and wetlands they call home and head toward nearby uplands to lay eggs, the Wisconsin Dept. Of Natural Resources explained in a Facebook post.

DNR officials are asking people to take several steps to help protect them over the next month:

  • Drive with caution on roads near wetlands, lakes and rivers
  • Report turtle observations, road crossings and nest sites (Click here to report)
  • Help protect Wisconsin’s native turtles by keeping wild turtles in the wild

As the turtles emerge, they will be highly visible in residential yards and along the roadways, the agency cautioned. DNR noted that female turtles being struck by vehicles during their nesting migrations has become a main factor in population declines in the state. Their nests are especially vulnerable to predation right now as well, officials added, explaining that the populations of animals that like raiding turtle nests - such as raccoons, skunks and coyotes – is higher than normal right now.

DNR officials also pointed out that some of the most vulnerable of Wisconsin’s 11 turtle species are especially vulnerable. They pointed out that Wood turtles and Blanding’s turtles cannot reproduce until they at 12 to 20 years old. Meanwhile, female ornate box turtles will often only lay a few eggs per year. For those groups, DNR says, even the removal of one female turtle can cause populations to decline or vanish altogether.

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