Make way for turtles: Forest preserve reminds drivers to be mindful

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Thursday, May 12, 2016
Baby gopher turtle
A University of Georgia researcher holds a baby gopher turtle at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory located at the Savannah River Site in Aiken, S.C. Monday, May 7, 2007.

DUPAGE COUNTY, Ill. (WLS) -- The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County is reminding drivers to be mindful of turtles crossing roads, as spring is their nesting season.

In late spring and early summer, female turtles move to nesting sites in order to lay their eggs. These nesting sites exist regardless of any human innovations, including roads, and a turtle's shell is no match for cars and trucks.

"Turtles focus on one thing this time of year: getting to their nesting sites, roads or no roads," said District ecologist Dan Thompson. "Car horns and flashing lights don't faze them, so it's up to drivers to be aware and try to avoid hitting these animals."

Forest preserve officials ask that if drivers see a turtles on the road:

-Never slam on your breaks and instead gradually slow down. If it is safest to keep going, try to straddle the turtle if possible.

-If you can safely pull over onto a shoulder, turn your hazard lights on to warn other motorists

-Notice which way the turtle's facing and move it to that side of the road. If you move it to the side it started from it will only try to cross again.

-Never move a turtle farther than the side of the road. Turtles are extremely territorial and taking one to a new habitat, even one you perceive to be better, can be harmfully disorienting.

If you come across an injured turtle, consult the Wilowbrook Wildlife Center at 525 S. Park Blvd. in Glen Ellyn. They can answer questions between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. at 630-942-6200.