Why does the Turtle Cross the Road?

As I was driving home the other night after work, I had to swerve to avoid a little wood turtle that was crossing the road. I slowed down, looked for a place to pull over. There was none. I decided not to pull over, considering the high volume of traffic. Then I continued to fret over the fate of the turtle the whole way home. I hoped that the other drivers would notice him, too, or her, and hoped the turtle wasn’t attempting a roundtrip across busy Route 302. Why do turtles do that? They have the tendency to pull their heads and legs into their shell when scared by an oncoming car, then can get smashed. Some turtle species like the sandy soils along the embankments of roads and this is where they choose to make their nests. It spells disaster for some turtles whereas others choose less busy roads and survive. For a related New Jersey story, “Rising Turtle Deaths Stymie Researchers,” go to:http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/news/press/cape_may/article_4f9a06b5-29d4-52b7-88cc-2e37cae18d10.html

As one way to address the roadkill problem, wildlife biologists and engineers with state and federal agencies, such as FWS and the Corps, have developed wildlife-friendly stream-crossings. For additional resources on wildlife stream-crossing research, visit the following links:

USDA Forest Service articles

Biologically Sound Stream Crossings, by Scott Jackson (PowerPoint presentation for ASWM)

Massachusetts Stream-Crossings Handbook

US FWS -Ashland NFWCO (Midwest) – Planning and Designing Fish Friendly Stream Crossings http://www.fws.gov/midwest/Fisheries/StreamCrossings/index.htm

Stream Continuity Project (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)

Wildlife-Friendly Stream and Undercrossings Research

Natural Heritage – Turtle Information and Conservation Tips (Mass Natural Heritage Program)

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