Friday, April 29, 2011

The Year of the Turtle

The turtles have now emerged from their long winter nap. They can be found sunning themselves on a variety of natural and man-made debris or in some secluded woodland spot. Worldwide there are 328 species with 20% of them found in the USA & Canada. But turtles are in trouble. They are the fastest disappearing species on the planet. In CT, 7 out of our 12 species, which includes 4 sea turtles, are either on the endangered, threaten or special concern list. This is why the Department of Environmental Protection has declared this the Year of the Turtle. How can you help them? Leave turtles in the wild; never make them pets. Never release a captive, “store bought”, turtle into the wild. Besides being illegal, it probably won’t survive and they can introduce diseases to the wild population. Do not disturb nesting turtles. If they are nesting in your yard, protect it. It is only temporary. Eventually you will be delighted when the hatchlings emerge. Obviously try to avoid hitting turtles on the road. If it is in June or July, it is probably a pregnant female. If you elect to help it cross, move it onto the side of the road where it is heading. It is going there for a reason and will just try again. Don’t relocate any turtle very far from where you found it. They are territorial and long lived creatures. It may never recover from being moved from its familiar territory. Most importantly, try to learn a little about them. The CT DEP web-site has quick information and links to other sites, plus a Turtle Contest for Kids and a list of CT events. Turtles have existed for 215 million years. Let’s help them stay one of the oldest reptiles on earth. Photo: Eastern Box Turtle - For the CT DEP web-site click here

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