Thinking Turtle Safety this Spring

Experts say Turtles will Start Moving, Crossing Roadways Early May, Beginning of June

DULUTH, Minn. – It’s getting to be the time of year when certain animals in the Northland wake up and make their way into the world once again.

However, it isn’t always without risk. Wildlife experts are reminding drivers to be on the lookout for turtles.

“If the shell is broken and blood is coming out, you can see flesh basically,” said Farzad Farr, Executive Director, Wildwoods Rehabilitation.

Sticks and stones are said to break human bones, but turtles fear tar and cars.

“They’re exposed, their body is exposed. Right now they’re migrating, moving from the wetland or the small lake they are in,” said Farr.

Moving out of hibernation to warm up and make more baby turtles.

“They start looking for warm spots to lie,” said Farr. “They look for gravel and the sand by the side of the road.”

Farr spends much of his spring answering phone calls and fixing broken shells.

Experts say early May through June, turtles will start showing up alongside roadways and on gravel shoulders.

“They’ll start coming out of the bottoms of the shallow waters,” said Jessica Phoenix, Zookeeper, Lake Superior Zoo.

After weathering the winter months, these cold blooded creatures look for hot surfaces to warm up and lay eggs.

“Depending on the extensiveness of the injury, we’re going to make a decision whether it can be repaired or not,” said Farr.

Farr says 98 percent of animals brought to his Wildwood Rehabilitation Center suffer with injuries caused by humans.

“We assess the injury, and then we bring the shell back together by taping it,” said Farr.

That is, if they can. Locally, it’s difficult to maintain funds for fixing each injury.

Staff and volunteers at Wildwoods say 60 percent of turtles brought in are injured so badly, they must be taken to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Roseville, Minnesota.

“They’re [painted turtles] really common turtles in Minnesota. They’re actually the most common turtle species in Minnesota,” said Phoenix.

Common creatures, adding up to many mishaps each year on Minnesota roadways.

“They’re actually a really cool part of our ecosystem. Don’t slam on your breaks or anything like that,”
said Phoenix.

This spring, experts are asking drivers to slow down if conditions are safe, stop, and help redirect the reptiles.

“They’re an ancient part of this area; they’ve been around a really long time,” said Phoenix.

Meanwhile, Farr reminds Northlanders back in the day, humans didn’t rule the roadway.

“The road wasn’t there years ago, so they could cross it safely,” said Farr.

Experts say if you stop and want to help a turtle cross the road, it’s best to pick them up with two hands, and grab near the back of the shell.

Wildwoods will welcome your call or questions anytime during the day.

Click here for more information.

Categories: Animal Answers, Community, Education, Environment, Links, News, News – Latest News