Oklahoma’s roads can be a dangerous place for wildlife, especially deliberate but slow-moving turtles. As you motor across the state this spring, consider lending the fellow travelers a hand with these three tips:
If traffic is heavy or the road doesn’t have a shoulder, do not attempt to move a turtle off the road. Only move a turtle if traffic is light and you can safely pull onto a wide shoulder.
Turn on your hazard lights and fully pull off on the side of the road the turtle is heading. This may keep you from unnecessarily crossing into the opposite lane.
Use a Firm Grip!
Grab the turtle by the middle part of the shell where the top part of the shell (the carapace) meets the bottom part of the shell (the plastron) with a firm grip to avoid dropping the turtle. To help snapping turtles across the road, use a branch or a similar object to gently prod the turtle from behind. Do not pick a turtle up by the tail.
Stay the Course!
Take the turtle to the side of the road in the direction the turtle is heading. If you take the turtle to the side of the road it just came from, it may attempt to again cross the road. Place the turtle as far off the road as possible but never cross a fence or trespass on private property. Turtles have small home territories and should not be relocated to a “better place.”
- Sanitize! The most common germ spread from turtles is Salmonella. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or use hand sanitizer to avoid an infection.
- Share the Sighting! After you’ve helped the turtle across the road, consider sharing the sighting on iNaturalist. Sharing nature sightings is one of the easiest and most effective ways you can get involved in conservation … every sighting helps biologists learn a little more about our state’s natural resources.