Spring has arrived and the warmer weather is on the horizon which means not only are more people going to be out and about on the trails, but so will turtles.
Not only does warmer weather increase their metabolism and require them to be more active in search of food, but they'll also be searching for a partner for mating season, which generally gets in full swing by mid-May.
So here's your annual reminder to not only be on the lookout for turtles, but be cautious when traveling around them. After all, they move slow while cars and bikes don't.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources advises against interfering with a turtle on a road or trail and recommends allowing the turtle to attempt to cross on its own if possible. If the situation calls for giving the turtle a hand, follow these bits of advice:
- Do not endanger yourself or other people.
- If you do pick up a turtle, move it to the side of the road that the turtle was heading toward and let it go. With the exception of snapping turtles and softshell turtles, all turtles should be picked up along the edge of the shell near the middle of the body.
- Snapping turtles and softshell turtles are aggressive and should be left alone.
- When handling a turtle, you may be bitten, scratched or urinated on. Consider yourself warned.
- Never drop a turtle or pick it up by the tail. Doing so can damage their spinal cord.
If there's no immediate threat, it's best to just let the turtle do its thing and move on its merry way. Such was the case last year when we encountered a snapping turtle chilling on the trail at Rock Run Preserve.
Regardless of the animal — from skunks and snakes to rabbits and coyotes — additonal information about living with wildlife is available from the University of Illinois Extension.
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