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DNR officials urge citizens to give turtles a brake

Each year at this time many female turtles move from lakes, ponds, wetlands, rivers and streams to nesting areas where they deposit their eggs in self-excavated nests. Unfortunately, many nesting areas are separated from the turtles' wintering areas by roads.

There are several ways people can help reduce road mortality for turtles. They include allowing unassisted road crossings. When turtles can safely cross roads unaided due to a lack of oncoming traffic, allow them to do so. Observe from a distance and avoid rapid movements, because doing otherwise will often cause turtles to change direction, stop or seek shelter within their shells.

Also people should avoid excessive handling. Prolonged examination of turtles should therefore be limited to only one or two individuals of each species.

People can also help turtles maintain direction of travel. Always move turtles in the same direction they were traveling in when encountered.

Turtles should always be moved across roadways in as direct a line as possible.

If people see a turtle or other animal on the road, they should slow down and drive around it. Hall noted that many people want to help turtles cross the road, which is understandable, but the best approach is to let the turtle cross unassisted. Minnesota has nine turtle species, some of which are protected.