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Watch Out! More turtles traveling across roadways in summer months

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is asking the public for help in protecting local turtles.

Turtles in Wisconsin cross the road frequently between the months of May and July. They leave the water in search of a safe and sandy environment to lay their eggs.

Turtle crossing signs have been posted in parts of the area to protect both fully grown turtles and their offspring from being run over.

"If you do see a turtle, it does not take that long to either quick go around, or you can quick stop. Takes not even a few minutes to pick up the turtle, and move it across the road," Brice Prairie resident Kelly Talbert said. "It doesn't take that long, I do it a lot. Any kind of turtle, even snapping turtles, I have done. They can't just run out of the way like other animals can"

Officials warn people that if they are going to help turtles cross the road, make sure to point them in the direction they were already heading. "If you put them on the side they just came from they are more than likely to try and cross the road again," said Andrew Badje of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR says leave already established nests alone. Re-locating turtle nests can be dangerous and can harm the babies. If protected properly the eggs will hatch between 60 and 90 days later.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when relocating turtles:

  1. Always keep your own safety in mind — watch out for oncoming vehicles, signal properly when pulling over and recognize your surroundings first before working to help save an animal.
  2. Be very careful when moving the animal (it could be injured or it could bite you depending on what species). If possible, sometimes it is best to just stand guard as the animal crosses the road on its own.
  3. If the animal needs to be moved, move it to the other side of the road in the same direction it was going. Using a car mat can be a good way to help the turtles across without actually picking them up. By using a car mat or putting something under the turtle, you can slide the turtle in the direction it was going.
  4. Do not pick the turtle up by the tail. Some turtles may be frightened and will try to bite (like snapping turtles). Do not pick them up by the tail!
  5. Do NOT take it with you — please only focus on helping it get safely to the other side.
  6. Wash your hands after handling the turtle.

Turtle crossing hot spots can be reported on the DNR’s website to protect turtles and find out more about unknown populations.

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Christian Schaller

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