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Slow Down and Give Turtles a Brake This Spring and Summer

CONTACT: Melissa Doperalski: (603) 271-1738 Jay Martin: (603) 271-3211 May 22, 2020

CONCORD, NH – World Turtle Day is tomorrow and is celebrated annually to bring attention to turtles by increasing education, protection, and understanding of them around the world. In New Hampshire, it is also the start of turtle nesting season when the move is on from wetlands and vernal pools to upland nesting sites. This nesting season lasts from late May into early July, reaching maximum intensity in June. One of the most significant threats to turtle populations in the Granite State is being struck by vehicles on roadways. While male turtles may occasionally travel over land to different wetlands, mature female turtles leave their home ponds and marshes every spring to lay their eggs, sometimes traveling distances of one mile, returning to the same location each year.

“Turtle nesting season provides us with a unique opportunity to see turtles moving on land, but it is an extremely vulnerable time for them,” said NH Fish and Game Department Wildlife Biologist Melissa Doperalski. “We can all do our part to help them safely reach their nesting habitats by slowing down when driving and keeping an eye out for them as they cross roadways in the coming weeks.”

Here are a few things you can do to help New Hampshire turtle populations stay abundant and healthy:

  • Slow down and watch for turtles in roadways.
  • Help turtles cross roads safely. If you see a turtle crossing a road, and it is safe for you to do so, help it cross in the direction it is traveling. Never create a dangerous situation for other motorists or yourself. Snapping turtles should be handled with extreme care or allowed to cross on their own.
  • Do not take the turtle home or move it from the area where you found it. A turtle taken to your home is a turtle lost from the local population. All native New Hampshire turtles are protected by state law during nesting season.
  • If a turtle is injured, visit www.wildnh.com/wildlife/rehabilitators.html or call NH Fish and Game’s Wildlife Division at (603) 271-2461 for a list of wildlife rehabilitators in your area. For more on what to do if you find an injured turtle, visit www.wildnh.com/nongame/turtles-injured.html.
  • Report turtle sightings (living or deceased) to NH Fish and Game’s Reptile and Amphibian Reporting Program at www.nhwildlifesightings.unh.edu.
  • Work with land trusts and town officials to help conserve important natural areas in your community.
  • Spread your mulch because an idle pile can be an attractive place for turtles to nest when located near wetland areas. If mulch will be piled for several weeks or more, covering it with plastic will help reduce the attractiveness to nesting turtles.

See pictures of and learn how to identify New Hampshire’s seven native species of turtles at www.wildnh.com/nongame/turtles.html.

The Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program works with state and private partners to protect more than 400 species of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians, as well as thousands of invertebrate species in New Hampshire.

Show your support for nongame and endangered wildlife in the Granite State; visit www.wildnh.com/nongame to donate today and help the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program reach its annual fundraising goal and actualize state-matching funds to support wildlife and habitat conservation.