5 Ways Mainers Can Help Turtles In The Road
It's been a couple years since I saw a snapping turtle in the middle of the road. When I did, we pulled over and got out the car. We approached the little buddy and stood nearby it to make sure no one else came along possibly hitting it.
Luckily, this was on a side street near our home in Westbrook and the speed limit is 25 mph. We called animal control and they took good of the turtle. We just thought it best not to touch it and have the authorities get him out of the road.
It did not appear to be injured. Many turtles in Maine aren't as fortunate as the one in my neighborhood that day.
How many times have we been cruising down the highway and seen something in the road like a tree branch, rock or bag of garbage that fell off a truck? Most of us would slow down carefully go around it, right?
It is mind boggling to me that people can be so careless and run right over a turtle. Maybe these drivers think the shell will protect the turtle. Absolutely not.
Thankfully, we have a place like the Center for Wildlife in Cape Neddick to make the best of as bad situation. They would like us all to spread the word to watch out for turtles on Maine roads this fall. They would also love it if you could make a donation to help them continue their important work of caring for wildlife here in the southern part of the state.
This morning on their Facebook page, they posted 5 ways to help turtles if you encounter them on the road.
1. Don't put yourself or others in danger.
-Simply pulling off the road and turning on your hazard lights may alert other drivers to slow down. Be aware of your surroundings and traffic.
2. Avoid Excessive Handling.
-While wanting to examine turtles closely is hard to resist, excessive handling can disrupt their normal behavior.
3. Allow Unassisted Road Crossings.
-If there's no oncoming traffic, let the turtle cross the road without help. Observe from a distance and avoid sudden movements that may startle it, otherwise the turtle may change direction, stop, or seek shelter within its shell.
4. Handle Turtles Gently.
If you must pick up a turtle, gently grasp the shell edge near the mid-point of the body with two hands (see Handling Turtles). Some turtles empty their bladder when lifted off the ground, so be careful not to drop it if it suddenly does.
5. Maintain Direction of Travel.
-Always move a turtle in the same direction it was traveling when you saw it. Place the turtle at least 30 feet from the road (not on the roadside), so if startled by the experience, the turtle does not get disoriented and accidentally run back into the roadway, or freeze and get run over. Turtles should always be moved across roadways in as direct a line as possible. You might be tempted to "help" the turtle by moving it to a wooded area or water body, but the correct solution is to quickly move the turtle the shortest distance possible.