Spring has finally sprung in Minnesota, and along with it native turtles are starting emerge again.  The Minnesota Zoo is working to help our state’s imperiled turtles, but we need your help!

Turtles have been on our planet longer than dinosaurs. But today, turtle populations in many regions are decreasing. Minnesota is home to nine species of turtles, and sadly some of them, like the wood turtle and Blanding’s turtle, are considered endangered on a global scale. The Minnesota Zoo is working diligently with our partners at Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources and Department of Transportation to find ways to help native turtle populations. For example, we tag individual turtles, following their movements to inform conservation efforts.  We also conduct research to understand threats wild turtles face. But we need your help to keep turtles safe too!

One of the biggest threats turtles face in Minnesota, and in the United States as a whole, is roadway mortality. Spring and summer are the busiest times for turtles to be on roadways for multiple reasons; they are moving between habitats, egg-laden females are traveling to nest areas, and/or newly hatched youngsters are seeking out areas that will serve as a permanent home. For these reasons, it is important to keep an eye out for turtles that might be on the roads over the next several weeks. If you spot turtles on the road, be cautious when passing them but do not put yourselves or others in danger – always be cautious of surrounding traffic. If possible, let the turtles cross the road unassisted. However if it is absolutely necessary to pick them up, grip them gently along the shell edge and move them across the road in the direction they were traveling.

For more information about specific steps you can take, our partners at the Minnesota DNR provide great information for Helping Turtles Across the Road.