Turtle crossing! What to do if you find a turtle on the road

Published: Apr. 6, 2023 at 1:48 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Turtles are moving, finding new habitats and mates for the spring season.

Thousands of turtles are killed by vehicles every year, and the Missouri Department of Conservation wants to remind you of some helpful tips.

If you see one on the road, do not slow traffic or cause a hazard to move the turtle. Only pull over if the coast is clear and you can exit the vehicle safely.

In that situation, here’s what you need to know.

“The one thing you gotta remember is to move the turtle in the direction it’s going,” Francis Skalicky, with MDC, said, “don’t move it back because it’s obviously going that way for a reason, whether that’s to the habitat where it remembers or it’s looking for a mate - for whatever reason turtles have kind of a homing situation in them, they know where they’re going, and they are determined to get there.”

Three-toed box turtles, ornate box turtles, and snapping turtles are the most commonly seen turtles this time of year. If you come across a snapping turtle, use extreme caution if you decide to move it across the road. Never put your hand or arm in front of a snapping turtle, and move them from behind slowly.

Conservation agents also urge you not to keep wild turtles as pets. Skalicky said more times than not. This leads to a slow death as the turtle does not have what it needs to survive and grow.

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