ELMIRA, N.Y (18 NEWS) - You may be seeing an increase in turtle sightings lately, there's a reason behind it. This time of year is turtle mating season and they're looking for places to lay their eggs.
"It's mating season right now," Says Tanglewood Nature Center curator Brianna Riespeck, "it's mating season for everything, turtles especially, this is a really crucial mating season because turtles often only reproduce every couple of years, like the box turtles will only reproduce every seven years and out of the clutch of maybe 7-10 that they have they will have probably 3 or 4 surviving ones."
If you are out and about walking on trails by the water or in the middle of the woods officials recommend if you come across an area where there's turtles or their eggs to just leave them be. Thousands of turtles are killed each year in New York State alone when they are struck by vehicles while migrating to their nesting areas. According to the New York State DEC the loss of just one breeding female can have a significant effect on the local turtle population.
"Definitely sort of hands off situation, you can hang out with the turtle, it's totally fine," Says Riespeck, but she also says you should not touch the reptile. "Don't move the eggs, don't move the turtle itself please don't take it home and if they are trying to cross the street the whole idea is to make sure you stop, don't hit them and move them in the direction they were going."
Now, if you're wondering how to go about moving a turtle that you find trying to cross the road officials say it's safe to pick them up by the sides of their shells but to never pick them up by their tails as that can cause injury to the animal. However, that should not discourage you as you are encouraged by officials to move the turtle to safety as all of New York's 11 species of land turtles are in decline and turtles can take up to 10 years to reach breeding age.
"They're really cool creatures to hang out with, they just-they need our protection they need our help so we should do everything we can to help them out," Riespeck says.
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