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DEC says ‘Give turtles a brake’

Urges drives to look out for and help turtles crossing the road to nest

This turtle was crossing the road on state Route 3, between Saranac Lake and Bloomingdale, on Thursday. A motorist stopped, picked it up by its shell and moved it to the grassy shoulder, where it continued its journey to the Saranac River. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

Turtles are on the move, migrating to nesting areas, so the state is asking drivers to “give turtles a brake” and keep an eye out for them in the months of May and June.

According to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, thousands of turtles are killed in New York each year when struck by vehicles. All 11 species of land turtles native to New York are in decline.

“A turtle’s shell provides good protection from natural predators, but it cannot protect a turtle from being hit by a vehicle while crossing a road,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said.

The DEC also asks drivers to consider moving the turtle to the shoulder on the side of the road in the direction it was facing, if they can do so safely.

The DEC says most turtles, other than snapping turtles, can be picked up by the sides of their shell. Picking them up by their tails may injure them.

Snapping turtles have long necks and a strong bite, so these turtles should be picked up by the rear of the shell using both hands. The DEC also recommends sliding a car mat under the turtle to drag it safely across the road.

DEC is also reminding people to never take turtles home. All native turtles are protected by law and cannot be kept without a DEC permit.

May 23 is World Turtle Day.

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