The Turtle Working Group

  • #KeepWildTurtlesWild
    Don’t take wild turtles home or move them from where you find them (except to help across the road or if trapped in a window well or other structure). Avoid using language in social media posts that encourages others to collect a wild turtle (e.g., “I want one”). Every individual is important to the survival of its population. Turtles learn where to find seasonally available resources and moving them away from where they live could cause them to die.

  • Report suspicious activity.
    If you suspect someone is involved in the illegal collection of wild turtles, report it to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's tip line (1/844/FWS-TIPS) or report a poacher at the link below. Learn more about what to look for and always keep your safety in mind.

    Click here

  • Don’t share location information online about turtles you see.
    Make sure you either turn off the geolocation on your phone before taking a picture or remove any location information embedded in photos before you post images on social media. Poachers may use this information to find sites for collecting turtles. Don’t like, promote, or share posts of wild turtles if they contain location information.
  • Assist turtles across the road.
    When it’s safe to do so, help turtles cross the road by moving them in the direction they are heading. To move large snapping turtles, slide something under the turtle (e.g., a car mat, cardboard, or shovel) under the turtle and slide them off the road. Don’t pick them up by the tail. It may injure their spine. A helpful video below.

  • If you find an injured turtle.
    Contact a local wildlife rehabilitator specializing in turtles, veterinarian that treats wildlife, or your state’s wildlife agency. Call first to make sure they treat turtles. Find a list of licensed rehabilitators

    Click here

  • Get to know your local turtle species and state regulations.
    Know your state’s laws when it comes to the capture and possession of native species. It’s illegal in many states to possess native species that were not captive bred, and laws pertaining to the capture and sale of both native and non-native species may have changed in your state. Be informed when it comes to turtles!

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  • Do your homework before purchasing a pet turtle.
    Pet turtles are a big commitment. They’re also among the most abandoned animals in the country because people don’t realize when they buy one that most species can live for many decades and become quite large. Before you make the same mistake, find out how long they live, how large they become as adults, and what habitat needs they’ll have at every age. Better yet, consider adopting one of the many turtles that needs a home. For more information visit the #EveryTurtleCounts page.

    Click here

  • Don’t release pet store turtles or allow them to escape.
    They can carry disease, may outcompete wild turtles for resources, and it might be illegal to do so in your state. Remember that turtles are great climbers and diggers, so make sure outdoor enclosures are secure.
  • Create habitat in your backyard.
    You can do this by adding native plants, shallow water sources (like a rain garden!), rocks and logs. Turtles even like to use mulch piles. Box turtles are omnivores, meaning that they like to eat both plants and animals. In particular, fruit-producing plants like raspberries, blackberries, mayapples, elderberry, black cherry, persimmon, pokeweed, and the like are often appetizing to roaming turtles. You can find more information on creating habitat for turtles and other herpetofauna.
  • Leave the leaves.
    Create a natural debris or leaf pile for sheltering and overwintering. Leaf litter also provides habitat for invertebrates that turtles eat. Preexisting piles may already be turtle habitat and should not be disturbed.
  • Identify and responsibly manage nesting habitats.
    Do not disturb nesting turtles or nests and preserve and protect known nesting sites.
  • Protect existing habitats.
    Protect nesting habitat, vernal pools, and long-standing natural water courses. Maintain a natural vegetation buffer bordering streams, wetlands, ponds, and other water bodies.
  • Mowing considerations.
    Minimize mowing between April and November, raise mower blades as much as possible and mow from the center of an area outwards to give turtles (and other animals) a chance to escape. Avoid turtle sensitive areas such as nesting spots during the nesting season and wetland edges. Detailed mowing information can be found here

    Click here

  • Monitor dogs outdoors.
    Keep an eye on your dogs to prevent them from harming turtles, especially during the nesting season in May-June. Because #EveryTurtleCounts, the loss of even one adult can spell disaster for a struggling turtle population.
  • Contain food items.
    Do not leave human or pet food in your yard and securely close garbage cans to deter turtle predators, such as foxes and raccoons. These predators can decimate turtle nests and turtle hatchlings, as well as harm adults.
  • Limit the use of pesticides.
    Pesticides should only be used as a last resort. If you must use them, select the best pesticide for the problem, use as little as possible and follow all guidelines and safety measures.



Taking Action in Your Community

  • Learn to identify the native turtle species in your area.
    Pick up a field guide and read about their natural histories. You’ll be amazed at how different they are!
  • Get involved.
    Support or join your local environmental organizations and advocate for open space conservation.
  • Share your knowledge.
    Distribute information in your community to create awareness around the issues turtles face and to enlist others in the fight to conserve them.
  • Continued education.
    Encourage public education and awareness about the value of wildlife. For example, invite a speaker to teach your community about native turtles.
  • Municipal and State Planning.
    Get involved with your local conservation commission to advocate for strong protections for local wildlife, and encourage municipal planners to:

    ● Implement construction modifications such as requiring turtle exclusion fencing during construction projects.
    ● Consider habitat needs when planning roads and construction including use of barriers and adequate passage structures where roads bisect turtle habitat.
    ● Add sloped curbs or wildlife passage tunnels to roads to allow turtles to travel more safely.
    ● Require the assessment of new construction sites and utility work for their potential impact on existing wildlife populations, and the implementation of mitigation measures accordingly.

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Northeast Partners in Amphibian & Reptile Conservation is fiscally sponsored by the Amphibian & Reptile Conservancy a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit.