Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Turtle season opens July 15

MADISON - Turtle season opens statewide July 15 and runs through Nov. 30. The open season does not include those species that are listed as endangered or threatened. The ornate box turtle, Blanding’s turtle and the wood turtle are protected and may not be taken at any time.

Anyone who collects or possess native Wisconsin unprotected aquatic turtles must have one of the following licenses: Fishing, Small Game, Sports, Conservation Patron, Setline, or Set or Bank Pole. See the turtle Wisconsin Amphibian and Reptile Regulations (pdf) pamphlet for more information.

There are also reports in the northern part of the state that turtles are nesting later than the usual May-June period, and motorists are urged to be on the alert for turtles crossing roads and highways.

When turtles are nesting they begin the journey from their aquatic habitat near lakes, wetlands and streams to drier habitats where the female will deposit her eggs.

Although most turtles will stop moving when they feel or see an approaching vehicle, motorists are encouraged to do the following during nesting season:

•Slow down near wetlands;
Stop and help the turtle cross the road if it’s safe to do so;
•Turtles found crossing a road should be carefully moved to the side of the road in the direction they are facing; and
•Use common sense -- and a stick for the turtle to bite -- if assisting a snapping turtle. Slowly pull the turtle across the roadway by its tail.

Turtles are up against tough odds even without highway mortality. Three of Wisconsin turtle species are listed as either threatened or endangered species. As few as 5 percent of eggs laid survive to hatch and of those, only very few may survive to reproductive age. Natural predators of turtles and turtle eggs are many and include raccoons, skunks, fox, opossums, herons, egrets, seagulls, cranes, crows and others.

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