Thursday - April 13, 2017 1:38 am

Humane society reminds drivers turtles are out, crossing roads again

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This is the first turtle to be brought into the humane society this season, after a driver intentionally swerved to hit it. This is the first turtle to be brought into the humane society this season, after a driver intentionally swerved to hit it. @DCHSWC on Facebook

Witness who brought in injured turtle thought driver intentionally swerve to hit it.

The Dane County Humane Society posted on Facebook a story about the first injured turtle that recently came in:

Our staff was just lamenting that the turtle road crossing season was going to be starting soon, and not more than 24 hours later, we had our first car strike victim.

We hate to see these animals injured, but even more tragic in this case is that the kind person that stopped to pick this lady up said the car in front of her had appeared to swerve in an attempt to hit the turtle, rather than try to avoid her.

She has a large fracture in her carapace (top shell), and a scapula fracture as a result of the impact, and will be having surgery tomorrow to repair her shell fracture.

This is the time of year when turtles are on the move for breeding and seeking out good nesting sites to lay their eggs. As they make their journey, many will risk their lives crossing roadways.

You can save turtles by being on the lookout for turtles in the roadways, slowing down around wetlands, and helping them safely cross the roads. Below are some guidelines to follow to be sure both you and the turtle stay safe!

1. First and foremost, don't put yourself or others in danger. On a busy road, sometimes just pulling over and putting your hazards on is enough to get people to slow down enough to allow the turtle to cross safely.

2. When helping a turtle cross, always move them across the road in the same direction they were already heading, even if they are heading away from an apparent water source.

3. Do not relocate the turtle. Simply move them to the other side of the road they are crossing, and let them be on their way. While moving them to water may seem like the kind thing to do, in reality, it could just make their journey longer and more dangerous as they reroute back to their original destination.

4. Never pick a turtle up by their tail. You can safely hold them along the back edge of their shell without getting bitten.

5. Alternatively, if you don't want to pick them up, you can use a blunt object such as a stick, shovel, ice scraper or other similar item you may already have in your car to push them across the road, or utilize a car mat to put under them and then slide them across the road.

6. Turtles are very resilient. If you see an injured turtle along the roadside, please pick it up and transport it to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator even if you are not sure it is alive any longer. Sometimes it can be hard to tell if it is alive, but even if it is not alive, there may be eggs that can be harvested for incubation and once hatched, the babies can be released back into the habitat that the mother had occupied.

7. Large snapping turtles can be a bit intimidating for people to help. Please check out this great video that will demonstrate some safe options for moving a snapping turtle off the road. 

8. Be sure to wash your hands after handling the turtle.

9. Report your sighting HERE to the Wisconsin Turtle Conservation Program, a citizen-based monitoring program aimed at identifying high-mortality locations along roads in order to better conserve Wisconsin's eleven turtle species. 

Last modified on Thursday - April 13, 2017 1:45 am
Rick Solem

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