Nature Matters: Watch out for turtles on the go

By KBJR News 1

May 13, 2014 Updated May 13, 2014 at 9:30 AM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com)

The crew at Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth knows why turtles cross the road.
Unlike the chicken of countless jokes, turtles cross roads because they have somewhere to go.

"Especially during the spring, they're trying to find a good place to lay their eggs and build their nests." said Emily Brian of the Aquarium.

The Minnesota DNR says turtles are disappearing quickly.
Roadway mortality is believed to be a major factor in the turtle population decline.
DNR officials say that helping turtles across roads, when it can be done safely, is vital to the animal's preservation.
Most times, you won't even need to touch them.
The sight of you lumbering near them will get them moving at an un–turtle like speed.
Just aim them in the right direction.

"It's really important you are helping the turtle cross in the direction its already going." said Brian.

Also, don't be tempted to make a turtle like the Aquarium's 44 pound snapper, Crush, a pet.
Home care of wild turtles is difficult because they are disease prone.

"They get bacterial infections under their shells and it means treatment with anti–biotics for months on end." said Barb Kellerman of the Aquarium.

People interested in protecting turtles can become turtle ambassadors.
That's a title that can be earned from an environmental group called Nature Abounds.
Ambassadors spread the word that turtles need protecting.
At the Aquarium, the first step in protection is keeping an eye on the road.

"People that are concerned about our shelled friends, I would suggest drivingly slowly and being conscious of where they are." said Brian.

That's because near wetlands, turtles are likely on the move.
In Duluth for Nature Matters, Dave Anderson, KBJR 6 and Range 11.

In Minnesota, the wood turtle and Blanding's turtle are on the threatened species list.
Along with road kills, loss of habitat is another factor that is threatening the animals' existence.