| Story by Cindy Cain |
Thirty-seven Blanding’s turtles raised in captivity by the Forest Preserve District of Will County are now swimming freely in the wild.
The turtles were transported from an indoor Will County forest preserve site to an undisclosed location in DuPage County. During the release a trio of turtle wranglers wearing chest-high waders braved the muck of a soupy marsh to set the turtles gently into the water so they could paddle away to freedom.
“We just slowly place each individual turtle out and spread them out some so they’re not concentrated or too close,” said Dan Thompson, an ecologist for the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, who coordinated the release.
The batch of Blanding’s turtles was the first one raised by the Forest Preserve District of Will County, which joined a regional Blanding’s turtle recovery program in 2017 to help save the state-endangered species. The turtle program was spearheaded by the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County and it is overseen by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
Before their release, the turtles were first microchipped and the marginal scutes, or bony plates, near the edge of the turtles’ shells were notched with files to make sure each turtle is logged into the program and can be identified later.