(WFRV) – The leading cause of the decline of the turtle population in Wisconsin is vehicles running them over, and officials are trying to make sure motorists are wary of the reptiles.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is teaming up with highway officials to encourage Wisconsinites to keep a keen eye out for the slow-moving creatures. Most of Wisconsin’s 11 turtle species breed in late May through June and often cross roads to lay their eggs in nests on higher ground, according to the DNR.
In addition to vehicles running turtles over, the shelled animal also faces problematic raccoons, skunks and coyotes when it comes to the decline in turtle numbers in Wisconsin.
Some turtle species including wood and Blanding’s turtles can take 12 to 20 years to reach reproductive maturity, says the DNR.
The DNR and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) are providing some actions to help the turtles:
- Drive with caution near wetlands and rivers
- Report roadways where turtles are crossing or are dead on the road
- Build a nest cage to protect turtle eggs and later, hatchlings if turtles are nesting on your property
Since 2012, people have provided more than 7,500 reports, with roughly half of those identifying turtle crossings. These reports help increase awareness and education for increasing turtle conservation in Wisconsin.
A highway project for this summer incorporates a culvert and fencing to help lead turtles under the new roadway and off the roads.
In 2020, Girl Scout Ella Kreuziger contacted the DNR about a highway in Waukesha County where many turtles were crossing. She raised enough money to pay for a turtle crossing sign to notify motorists. Ella ended up receiving her Silver Award in scouting for helping the turtles.