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Time for drivers to watch for turtles; Wisconsin DNR offers resources to build turtle nests

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FILE - Seen here is a Blanding’s turtle, which begins to reproduce at 12-20 years of age and are often seen nesting along roadsides. (PHOTO: Andrew Badje, Wisconsin DNR)

It’s that time of the year again, when turtles need your keen eye while driving — and perhaps a helping hand.

Turtles are starting to emerge from rivers, lakes and wetlands to lay eggs.

FILE – Seen here is a snapping turtle. Many Wisconsin turtle species will soon be laying eggs. (PHOTO: Wisconsin DNR)

Wisconsin’s 11 turtle species lay eggs in nests from late May through June in sunny and well-draining uplands, where they are highly visible along roads and in residential yards.

Many females are run over by vehicles during these annual nesting migrations, a leading cause of turtle decline throughout Wisconsin.

Turtle nests also experience high levels of predation, as populations of nest-raiding animals such as raccoons, skunks and coyotes have grown beyond historical levels.

“The nesting season is a really tough time to be a turtle mother,” Andrew Badje, Wisconsin DNR Conservation Biologist, said. “Many are removed from the population by car collisions on roads, while some protected species are illegally taken from the wild and sold in the illegal pet trade. Protecting adult females and turtle nests in the wild are the best ways to conserve turtle populations in Wisconsin.”

Wisconsin’s protected turtle species face additional challenges.

Wood turtles and Blanding’s turtles cannot reproduce until they reach 12 to 20 years, and ornate box turtles tend to produce few eggs each year.

Therefore, the removal or death of even one female turtle per year can lead to population declines or the elimination of local populations.

The DNR encourages people to consider following these protective actions from now until the end of July:

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