Animal Control Officer Suzanne Carlin said this time of year her office receives numerous calls about turtles being run over by cars.
Turtle nesting season is between the months of May and July.
“Please take extreme caution if you decide to help a turtle cross the road. Safety Always comes first. Do not attempt to stop traffic, Snapping Turtles can be large, heavy and feisty. To avoid getting bit a shovel is always useful to help scoop up a snapping turtle, if attempting to pick up a snapping turtle ideally picking them up by their shell from behind closer to their hind feet by their tail to avoid a bit and never pick them up by their tails, which could damage their spine. Always be safe than sorry and call for assistance if necessary.”– Animal Control Officer Suzanne Carlin
During this time egg bearing females will travel far distances to find the perfect nesting habitat to dig a nest and lay their eggs.
In fact, she said it’s nesting season for a variety of wildlife. Fawns are being born, baby bunnies, nesting and fledgling birds, baby squirrels, opossums, raccoons and skunks, to name a few. Please be aware and mindful that many of our wild neighbors are busy nesting, giving birth and raising their young.
“It’s baby season for wildlife,” she said. “Birds are nesting. There are fledglings. Be aware of that fact.”
“If you’re mowing your lawn, be mindful, especially if you see a lot of fur in tall grassy area, it’s likely to be a bunny nest because mother rabbits pull fur to line the nest.”
Please be aware and respectful of these animals, also please continue to practice responsible pet ownership.
Make sure indoor/outdoor cats are up to date on Rabies vaccinations.
“For cats that go outside, it’s really important to put a bell on them – that gives a little bit of a heads up for some of the songbirds, and sometimes for the bunnies to get out of harm’s way,” she suggested.
But back to those turtles. Carlin noted they travel a good distance. When people see them in the road, and stop to help them cross, it is imperative that the turtle be put the direction they are walking.
“If you turn them around, they’re only going to turn around again and walk in that direction,” she warned. “I don’t advise people to pick them up. I’d rather them call us.”
“Turtles should never be moved to what you think is a better spot, like a terrestrial turtle (Box Turtle ) that you think would prefer to live in a pond. It would not. These turtles are land turtles, not aquatic and many turtles species have established habitats and a home range.
Females will often return to the same general area to lay eggs each year. So moving Turtles to new locations can be detrimental and many turtles may not survive if moved to new locations. This could be the difference between life and death for the turtle and future generations.”Animal Control Officer Suzanne Carlin
ACO Carlin asks the public to please be aware and alert not to hit them.
“Slow down and watch your speed,” she said, adding that Animal Control responds to many calls this time of year to help cross the turtles safely across the road.
Carlin said there are some people who are knowledgeable and comfortable moving a turtle.
“If you’re able to do it, and if you have a shovel, and are able to do it safely, especially if they are the Snapping Turtles, you want to get as far back toward the tail and back legs, and carry them that way, because you’ll be far away from being bitten. They can certainly turn and be able go get you.”
Carlin shared a photo of a turtle that had been run over. She said she guessed it had previously been someone’s pet turtle that had been released. Sadly, she said, it was “beyond repair.”
“A lot of times the veterinarians can use epoxy and fix the shell, but half of its face was gone,” she said, adding that she found the turtle about 25 feet down from Babcock Preserve on North Street.
“I thought it was crossing so I stopped. I thought I’d turn around and help it. And then to find it was still alive…It was heartbreaking, but preventable,” she said. “How do you miss that when you’re driving?”
Keep your pets safe. Dogs should also have up to date rabies vaccines and be leashed especially when in wooded areas, in parks and owners may want to walk into their yards and check for wildlife alert them before allowing their dogs to run outside into the yard especially during (dawn and dusk) to check for possible coyotes or fox or even baby wildlife laying in the tall grass.
Preventing conflict and injuries protects both our dogs and the wildlife.
Also, ACO Carlin said, “Please remember invisible fences are designed to keep your dogs in your yard, but they do not keep other animals or wildlife out.”
If you spot a turtle in the road and are not comfortable helping it across, call animal control at (203) 622-8299.
Animal control hours: 7:30am to 3:00pm, Monday through Friday.