As summer approaches, you may be noticing more than just cars out on the roadways.
“The turtles are more active and so you might see more of them out on the roadway,” said Topeka Zoo Director of Conservation and Education Dennis Dinwiddie. “Water turtles are a lot more prevalent on the roadways right now after all the rains we’ve had, they’re out and moving about and crossing roadways in a lot of different places.”
They’re often in search of new territory or a mate, and some have been displaced by the recent flooding.
Kansas’ state reptile is facing some challenging times.
“Ornate box turtles and in fact, many turtles, their populations are declining,” said Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Director of Information Ron Kaufman.
Being run over on roadways and poaching are believed to be some contributing factors.
“We come along, we build roadways, we build housing developments, we build other structures in there, and now they’re in places where there are more humans,” said Dinwiddie.
That’s why the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism is teaming up with the Topeka Zoo for a three-year research project to find out how they can help protect the turtles.
“In the case of the ornate box turtle, we want to find out why, to see if that may be something we can intervene on in the future,” said Kaufman.
Both Kaufman and Dinwiddie said if you happen to see a turtle in the road, only try to help get it across if the road is clear of traffic and is safe to do so. Then once you move it, make sure you point it in the direction it was headed, or else it will just try to cross the road again.
To find out more about how you can help protect the turtles, click HERE.