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question about moving turtles across roads

Posted: May 14th, 2017, 2:30 pm
by Zach Cava
I was recently driving through the NJ pine barrens and saw a box turtle starting to make its way across the road. I stopped to carry it over, but as I approached it promptly made a 180 and burrowed into the leaf litter a few feet away. I debated about whether or not to move it across the road in the direction it was originally headed, but ultimately decided to leave it. I was very relieved to not find any smashed turtles when I drove back down the road a few hours later, but I'd like to know what others would have done in this situation? Thank you

Re: question about moving turtles across roads

Posted: May 14th, 2017, 5:39 pm
by ThatFrogGuy
I probably would have moved it-it probably attempted to cross again after it felt the threat was gone.

Re: question about moving turtles across roads

Posted: May 14th, 2017, 5:46 pm
by durissus
I would have move it because I did just what you did a long time ago ... on my way to Lucille's in Warren Grove for lunch ... only to see it hit an hour later on Rt 539. Lesson learned I never want to have repeated. That haunted me for years .

How about the ones that are walking along the road ... you don't know if they already crossed or are about to . That drives me nuts ... I never know what to do.

Re: question about moving turtles across roads

Posted: May 14th, 2017, 6:10 pm
by BillMcGighan
Zach,
This is a worse response than anecdotal; it’s a recollection of an anecdote and an opinion!

In 2008 I was privileged to hear a presentation of a Box Turtle study by Clinch River Environmental Studies Organization (CRESO) concerning the turtle’s response to certain silvaculture treatments (clear cutting, etc.)

They used telemetry extensively to track the movements of individuals.

One presenter said it looked like individual adults of this species have a territory that they regularly travel through (daily or seasonal).

I noticed on their map that one male regularly crossed a road that went through his personal territory.
I asked your question: Is it better to move the animal far from the road?

Off line, the presenter was of the opinion that unless you move the animal way out of its territorial range (not a good thing), the turtle seems to know where it is heading and will make the determination on its own.

Since this discussion, I just get them off busy roads, knowing that the turtle may very well cross as soon as I’m out of sight.

Re: question about moving turtles across roads

Posted: May 14th, 2017, 6:43 pm
by Zach Cava
Thanks for the replies. I didn't want to move him and stress him out more only to potentially have him turn back around again, but sounds like maybe next time I should!

Re: question about moving turtles across roads

Posted: May 15th, 2017, 7:30 am
by ackee
If possible, and traffic permitting, I do not get out of my vehicle at all. I stop and let them complete their trip. This is especially true on dirt side roads. Their journey,especially during egg laying season, is more important than my curiosity or photo opportunity. Exceptions are when the turtle is digging on the road. I saw this twice last year, one Snapping Turtle and one Box Turtle digging on the road's edge. My extended presence was enough to cause them to abandon their efforts.

Re: question about moving turtles across roads

Posted: May 15th, 2017, 7:46 am
by Zach Cava
ackee wrote:If possible, and traffic permitting, I do not get out of my vehicle at all. I stop and let them complete their trip. This is especially true on dirt side roads. Their journey,especially during egg laying season, is more important than my curiosity or photo opportunity. Exceptions are when the turtle is digging on the road. I saw this twice last year, one Snapping Turtle and one Box Turtle digging on the road's edge. My extended presence was enough to cause them to abandon their efforts.

This was less about curiosity/photos than it was about making sure the turtle didn't get hit. It was on a paved road with a decent amount of high-speed traffic.

Re: question about moving turtles across roads

Posted: May 15th, 2017, 7:51 am
by ackee
I assumed that . On roads with traffic i tend to leave things alone and hope for the best. A few days ago I saw a Snapping Turtle on an isolated grassy margin of Rt 78 a few miles from Newark. I can't imagine how she got there, but she was digging away.

Re: question about moving turtles across roads

Posted: May 19th, 2017, 11:50 am
by lateralis
The strategy used for tortoise here in the west is to allow the animal to complete its trek. If it is in imminent danger, it is moved in the direction of travel. Typically not lifted as they tend to void their bladder (not good in the desert) but slid on a floor mat and dragged if the situation allows. I would never just leave a turt on the road, I've seen too many get flattened by inattentive drivers. I saw a female tortoise in the east mojave get t-boned by a driver on a back road, I saw the tort from a half mile away and the driver was equidistant from the tort as well. The tort was the size of a small boulder and yet this dummy managed to nail it and send it ass over tea kettles for about 50 meters. They never stopped, probably because of the look on my face as we passed each other.

Re: question about moving turtles across roads

Posted: May 19th, 2017, 5:54 pm
by Kelly Mc
lateralis wrote:The strategy used for tortoise here in the west is to allow the animal to complete its trek. If it is in imminent danger, it is moved in the direction of travel. Typically not lifted as they tend to void their bladder (not good in the desert) but slid on a floor mat and dragged if the situation allows. I would never just leave a turt on the road, I've seen too many get flattened by inattentive drivers. I saw a female tortoise in the east mojave get t-boned by a driver on a back road, I saw the tort from a half mile away and the driver was equidistant from the tort as well. The tort was the size of a small boulder and yet this dummy managed to nail it and send it ass over tea kettles for about 50 meters. They never stopped, probably because of the look on my face as we passed each other.
Such a good point about doing ones best and especially trying to avoid inciting a loss of fluids. Thank you Lateralis.

Re: question about moving turtles across roads

Posted: May 19th, 2017, 5:56 pm
by gcsnelling
lateralis wrote:The strategy used for tortoise here in the west is to allow the animal to complete its trek. If it is in imminent danger, it is moved in the direction of travel. Typically not lifted as they tend to void their bladder (not good in the desert) but slid on a floor mat and dragged if the situation allows. I would never just leave a turt on the road, I've seen too many get flattened by inattentive drivers. I saw a female tortoise in the east mojave get t-boned by a driver on a back road, I saw the tort from a half mile away and the driver was equidistant from the tort as well. The tort was the size of a small boulder and yet this dummy managed to nail it and send it ass over tea kettles for about 50 meters. They never stopped, probably because of the look on my face as we passed each other.
Are you sure it was inattention and not a deliberate hit? In the vile cesspit in which I reside I see far too many dead turtles which are obvious deliberate victims of such despicable behavior.

Re: question about moving turtles across roads

Posted: May 20th, 2017, 8:45 am
by lateralis
You are welcome Kelly, the animal's welfare is first and foremost to me.

the driver in question was a young woman driving by herself and from the look on her face I think she just didn't see it. I think she would have stopped but I fear my wrath was quite evident as we went past each other. Fortunately when I got to the tort I found it only had some minor abrasions to the legs and chips in the carapace. I'm sure she was wondering wtf just happened but otherwise she appeared to be ok. I humped her off the road about 50 yards in the direction she had been going and placed a small plate of water in front of her, marked the spot and came back an hour or two later. Tort was gone, water was gone (plate had grit and greens in it so she may have had a sip) and the tail ends. :-)

Re: question about moving turtles across roads

Posted: May 20th, 2017, 11:45 am
by ackee
If there is a line of cars behind you doing 60+ mph, honking and passing if you merely slow down the option of stopping to assist a turtle in the middle of the road does not realistically exist. These are typical conditions here in the crowded NE, especially during morning commuting time when most turtles are active, so hoping for the best is really all you can do under these circumstances. Pulling off onto the shoulder and dashing into heavy traffic is not only dangerous but can get you arrested for being a damned fool.

Re: question about moving turtles across roads

Posted: May 21st, 2017, 7:50 pm
by Zach Cava
lateralis wrote:You are welcome Kelly, the animal's welfare is first and foremost to me.

the driver in question was a young woman driving by herself and from the look on her face I think she just didn't see it. I think she would have stopped but I fear my wrath was quite evident as we went past each other. Fortunately when I got to the tort I found it only had some minor abrasions to the legs and chips in the carapace. I'm sure she was wondering wtf just happened but otherwise she appeared to be ok. I humped her off the road about 50 yards in the direction she had been going and placed a small plate of water in front of her, marked the spot and came back an hour or two later. Tort was gone, water was gone (plate had grit and greens in it so she may have had a sip) and the tail ends. :-)
yep, I worked with desert tortoises for several years out west, but as ackee noted, road conditions can be a bit less forgiving here in the NE...