Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘turtle conservation’

Public Participation Key to Protect Terrapins on Roads

Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

Local residents and visitors in coastal areas urged to drive carefully during summer months.

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

To cross or not to cross? Roads are barriers to wildlife, like this adult female northern diamondback terrapin.

This year marks nine years since we began efforts to document and reduce roadkills of N. diamondback terrapins in S. Ocean and N. Atlantic Counties within the Barnegat and Great Bay Watersheds. Our Great Bay Terrapin Project was centered around Great Bay Blvd. or Seven Bridges Road, a long saltmarsh access road where many adult female terrapins enter the roadway while seeking nest sites.

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Celery Farm and Beyond: Rescuing a Few Baby Terrapins

Thursday, May 30th, 2019
Photo by Jim Wright

While out on a drive along Delaware Bay friend of Conserve Wildlife Foundation Jim Wright has an unplanned encounter with our biologist Larissa Smith and several baby terrapins.

On his blog Jim says “(Larissa) explained that these tiny terrapins cross this road every late May. We helped save four of the little turtles — including three that would have likely been crushed by a giant tractor-trailer headed for a marina.  Alas, we found a few crushed little guys on the way.”

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Keeping Turtles Wild

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016
TURTLES SHOULD NEVER BE TAKEN FROM THE WILD!

by Kathleen Wadiak, CWF Intern

Have you ever seen a cute little turtle on the roadside or in a river or lake? Lots of people have had the pleasure of seeing turtles in the wild- as they are often easy to see and not too weary of people! This time of year, turtles are beginning to hatch after months of developing inside eggs that were laid in the spring. When turtles are just hatched they are the most vulnerable to predators and even humans! Most hatchling turtles can fit inside the palm of your hand. Often time humans have the misconception that a small turtle is a helpless turtle. Turtles are wild and unless they are trapped or diseased- they do not need our help!

A hatchling bog turtle. Photo by Kelly Triece.

A hatchling bog turtle. Photo by Kelly Triece.

If you find a turtle, please leave it – even if the surroundings seem strange to you, it probably feels right at home. Moving turtles away from their home range can cause disorientation and leave it vulnerable to predators or other hazards.

If a turtle is ON a roadway- then it can be quickly helped off the road! Please see our recent blog post about helping turtles on the road. If you do move a turtle off the road, never take the turtle to a completely new location. Finally, handle it as little as possible to reduce the risk of injury or disease for you and the turtle.

It can be exciting to see a turtle in the wild, and it may be tempting to continue to handle it or even take it home to keep as a pet; however, it is important to remember that they are wild animals and will live much better lives in their natural habitat than they will in a tank. In many cases, wild caught turtles do not adjust to captivity, as they do not react well to sudden space and dietary restrictions. Furthermore, only a small percentage of wild turtles survive to adulthood, so removing them from the population can be detrimental to that population’s future.

Thanks for helping us Keep Turtles Wild!


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Helping Turtles Off Roads

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016
ROADS ARE DANGEROUS CROSSINGS FOR SLOW-MOVING TURTLES

by Kathleen Wadiak, CWF Intern

New Jersey is home to a number of turtle species, and this time of year, it is not uncommon to see some of them crossing the road. Slow movers on land, they are not well equipped to avoid the dangers of a busy roadway. If you come across a turtle on one of your streets, what should you do?

An eastern box turtle. Photo by Ben Wurst.

An eastern box turtle. Photo by Ben Wurst.

First of all, it is important to think of your own safety in addition to the turtle’s. Be sure to pull completely over to the side of the road and to put on your hazard lights. Check for cars, and make sure that you are visible to oncoming traffic.

 

Snapping turtle. Photo by Kelly Triece.

Snapping turtle. Photo by Kelly Triece.

If you want to move a turtle across the road, there are a few things to keep in mind. To start, remember to never lift a turtle by its tail or limbs, as this can cause serious injury. With most turtles, it is best to pick them up on either side of their shell between the forelimbs and hind limbs. Even small ones may squirm and kick, so try to keep a firm hold and carry them low to the ground to avoid a dangerous drop!

 

If the turtle is large with a long tail and pointed head, it is likely a snapping turtle and should be met with some extra caution. Try using a blunt object to gently coax it to the roadside, and be careful to avoid touching it anywhere within range of its bite, which can reach as far back as the middle of its body! If you think you need to carry it, hold it with two hands on the shell behind its hind legs, on either side of the tail.

 

Terrapin X-ING sign along Great Bay Blvd. Photo courtesy of Ben Wurst.

Terrapin X-ING sign along Great Bay Blvd. Photo courtesy of Ben Wurst.

Before you handle a turtle, notice which direction it’s facing. Move it to that side of the street, as it is likely determined to head to a certain site, and will end up in the road again if it is moved away from its goal. This is an especially important point with the many threatened and endangered turtle species in our state. Helping turtles in trouble across a roadway and leaving them to enjoy their natural environment is a great way to ensure that there will be more wild turtles to appreciate for years to come!


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What did you do this summer?

Thursday, September 13th, 2012
Experience gained; many terrapins saved!

by Kristin Ryerson, CWF Terrapin Project Intern

Kristin prepares to release the injured terrapin her Dad found on Rt. 72. Photo courtesy Kristin Ryerson

“What did you do this summer?” was a question I was frequently asked by family, friends and classmates when I recently returned to college this fall. Well, where to begin! Ben Wurst, CWF’s Habitat Program Manager, set a goal this summer to lower the number of road killed Northern Diamondback Terrapins on Great Bay Boulevard in Tuckerton, NJ. In previous studies, 50 terrapins could be killed in one nesting season—the main cause? People. Careless drivers who are either speeding or simply oblivious to the many yellow signs warning them of crossing nesting terrapins and the fact that they are in the middle of an extremely vital wildlife refuge. So, this summer, I had the privilege of being the Great Bay Terrapin Project’s Intern, and my job was to help save nesting terrapins crossing the road and to take valuable data on those I saw. Ben gave me some equipment and the knowledge I would need when working on the road. Through road patrols, educating the public, maintaining the previously installed barrier fencing, painting road signs and data collection, I learned more than I had imagined and had an amazing experience.

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