Mike Marchand: (603) 271-3016
Jane Vachon: (603) 271-3211
May 27, 2005

Give Turtles a Brake

CONCORD, N.H. -- New Hampshire motorists should be on the alert for turtles crossing roads in search of warm sandy areas to lay their eggs. Please brake for them, urges Wetlands Biologist Mike Marchand of New Hampshire Fish and Game's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program, because the loss of just a few individuals can wipe out a local turtle population.

"For some turtle species, it can take as long as two decades before they can reproduce, so the survival of the adults is critical," said Marchand.

If you can do so without endangering yourself or others, when you encounter a turtle trying to make its way across a road, you can try to get it out of harm's way by helping it continue in the same direction it was traveling. If it's not a snapping turtle, pick it up and carry it across the road. For snappers, try to stop traffic and wait until it gets across the road, or maneuver the turtle onto a flat shovel and pull it across. Do not relocate a turtle away from the general area in which you find it, and never take turtles home as pets.

New Hampshire's turtles are expected to hit their peaking nesting activity about the middle of June, about a week later than usual because of the recent cold, wet weather. Turtles deposit 5 to 30 eggs in a sandy hole; eggs incubate over the summer and hatch in the fall. Skunks and raccoons prey on the unguarded nests, destroying many of the eggs.

Turtles are the longest-living species in the state; some have been known to live for 70 years or more. The Eastern painted turtle is New Hampshire's most common turtle. Snapping turtles are also common; they usually come out of the water onto land only to lay eggs or move from one waterbody to another. New Hampshire also has four turtles that are species of conservation concern: Blanding's, spotted, wood and Eastern box turtles all are protected from collection, possession and sale.

For more information on Fish and Game's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program, click here.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is the guardian of the state's fish, wildlife and marine resources and their habitats.


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