NEW YORK (WWTI) — New Yorkers are being urged to “give turtles a brake” on the road this spring.
New York State Department of Environmental Commissioner Basil Seggos issued an alert on Wednesday reminding residents that turtles are “on the move” in May and June, asking drivers to be on the lookout for turtle crossings.
According to the DEC, thousands of turtles are killed in the state after being hit by vehicles while migrating to nesting areas.
“A turtle’s shell provides good protection from natural predators, but it cannot protect a turtle from being hit by a vehicle while crossing a road,” Seggos said. “Vehicle strikes are a major cause of turtle mortality and New York’s native turtles are more active this time of year as they seek sandy areas or loose soil to lay their eggs, sometimes even near the side of a road.”
If a turtle is spotted on the road, drivers are urged to slow down to avoid hitting it with their vehicle. The DEC asked, if the vehicle can safely stop, motorists should move turtles to the side of the road in the director it was facing.
Additionally, motorists are advised to not pick turtles up by their tails. Most turtles—other than snapping turtles, unless you’re very careful—can be picked up by the sides of their shell. If a motorist is trying to help a snapping turtle, they are asked to pick it up by the rear of the shell near the tail using both hands.
New York State is home to 11 species of land turtles, all of which are in decline. Learn more about native turtles on the DEC website.