The state Department of Environmental Conservation is reminding motorists that turtles are on the move during the months of May and June, and to watch out for them on the roads.
DEC officials say turtles are seeking sandy areas or loose soil to lay their eggs, and drivers should be on the lookout and drive cautiously, especially on roads near rivers and marshy areas.
According to the DEC, thousands of turtles are killed each year by being struck by vehicles while migrating to nesting areas. The 11 native species of turtles in New York are declining, and the loss of a breeding female can significantly impact the local turtle population because they leave only a small clutch of eggs each year, and it can take more than 10 years for a turtle to reach breeding age.
If you spot a turtle on the road or near the shoulder, the DEC advises drivers to safely stop their vehicle and consider moving the turtle to the side of the road in the direction the turtle is facing, only if it doesn’t put themselves or their passengers in danger.
The DEC says most turtles can be picked up by their shells, but they should never be picked up by their tails, because it could frighten or injure them. You can either pick the turtle up by the rear of the shell near its tail, or slide a car mat under the turtle and drag the matt across the road.
The DEC is also reminding the public that turtles cannot be collected without a permit and they should not be taken into personal possession.
For more information about how to protect amphibians and reptiles, click here.