ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) – As the spring settles in, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has put out an annual reminder of what to watch out for on the roads in May and June. Some crossers may take longer than others – especially the four-legged kind.
The DEC is reminding drivers in New York that it’s turtle season on roads. Thousands of turtles are killed each year as they cross roads while migrating to nest in loose or sandy soil to lay their eggs. Many turtle varieties populate areas around lakes, rivers and wetlands, and can be found in areas like Lake George and elsewhere in the Adirondacks.
Drivers who come across turtles crossing a road are advised to slow down in order to avoid hitting the turtle. If possible, motorists are encouraged to consider pulling over and moving the turtle to the side of the road, in whatever direction it is already headed. Anyone who does so should pick the turtle up by the sides of its shell. Picking turtles up by the tail can cause injury, and can frighten the animal.
One type of turtle that calls New York home is the snapping turtle. These should be moved with extreme caution. They should be picked up at the rear of the shell near the tail, using two hands, or can be moved by sliding a car mat under the turtle and moving them across the road.
Eleven species of land turtle are native to New York. The DEC says that the population is on the decline for all of them. Turtles lay just one clutch of eggs per year, meaning that the death of one mature female can have a huge impact on turtle population. Turtles should not be taken home, and cannot be kept without a state permit.
The Lake George area is home to five species of turtle, including the Northern Map Turtle, Eastern Painted Turtle, Wood Turtle, Common Musk Turtle, and Snapping Turtle, according to the Lake George Association. Other species in New York include the Eastern Box Turtle, Spotted Turtle, Blanding’s Turtle, Spiny Shoftshell, Bog Turtle, and Diamondback Terrapin. At the northern end of the Adirondack Park, the DEC operates the Upper and Lower Lakes Wildlife Management Area in St. Lawrence County, which works to provide turtle species with proper habitats.