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Keep Wildlife Wild

There are 11 species of turtles in Wisconsin. The semi-aquatic painted turtle is our most abundant species. The state-endangered ornate box turtle is Wisconsin's only terrestrial (totally land-dwelling) turtle. The months of May and June are peak nesting seasons for Wisconsin's turtles. All turtles lay their eggs on land, most in a nest that they dig themselves using their hind feet. Once the eggs are laid, the female turtle buries the eggs and leaves them to hatch on their own. After hatching, young turtles are completely independent and self-sufficient.

Tip: Turtles that are about to lay eggs often crossroads to find soil suitable for nesting. These turtles are often hit by motor vehicles on the roadway by drivers who don't see them in time to avoid them. Be on the lookout for turtles on the roadway, especially during May and June. If it is safe for yourself and others to do so, you can help a turtle cross the road. Be very mindful of your safety and the safety of other drivers, and do not attempt to stop traffic.

Take extra caution if you assist a snapping turtle across a road. Snapping turtles can be large, and heavy, have a very long mobile neck and can bite very hard. To protect yourself, use a shovel or board to scoop up and carry the turtle or use a rake or sturdy stick to push and scoot a snapping turtle, across the road.

When assisting a turtle across the road, move it in the direction in which it is traveling. If you turn it around in the opposite direction the turtle will likely make another attempt to cross the road. Also, do not move the turtle to a "better spot" or different location. Turtles have a familiar home range and females often return year after year to the same general area to lay their eggs.

If you find an injured turtle, call the DNR or a licensed wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible. Do not put the injured turtle in the water. The turtle may not be able to keep its head out of the water and could drown.

For more information about how you can help Wisconsin's turtles visit the Wisconsin Turtle Conservation Program.