Turtle Crossing!

| Elizabeth Willenbrink

Spring is definitely upon us and so are rainy days! Spring also marks an important time in the mating season of Kentucky’s native turtle population. Turtles throughout The Parklands become especially active during or after rain events, oftentimes out on the prowl for a mate! As cities and areas around The Parklands become more populated, turtles are often forced to cross roads and sidewalks in order to find a mate (or just a delicious meal).

If you are driving through The Parklands, or on any road for that matter, it is important to know the right way to help turtles out of the roadway! Take a look at this video by Ranger Elizabeth, Ranger Russell, and Ranger Randy!

Below are some techniques that will keep you safe, while also ensuring that the turtle makes it across the road healthy and alive!

  1. Make sure it is safe to stop your car and exit your vehicle. Do not attempt if it is unsafe!
  2. Always place the turtle in a safe grassy spot on the side of the road in the direction they were walking. If you place them on the side where they were coming from, they will walk back into the road.
  3. If you are helping an aquatic turtle (has a flat shell and paddle-like hands), use a t-shirt or towel and pick up the turtle with two hands. Aquatic turtles have sharp claws, so the fabric will help keep you from getting scratched.
  4. If you are helping a snapping turtle, DO NOT PICK UP, TOUCH, OR PROD. Instead, monitor the road from a safe distance until the snapping turtle has made it successfully across.
  5. NEVER pick up a turtle from its tail. The tail is attached to the turtle’s spine and picking them up with it may cause dislocation and extreme pain for the turtle.

If you touch a turtle, make sure to use hand sanitizer or wash your hands as soon as possible! And thank you for being a turtle savior!

About the Author

Picture of Elizabeth Willenbrink

Elizabeth Willenbrink

Elizabeth joined The Parklands team in March of 2019 as an Interpretive Ranger. In this position, she specializes in outdoor education experiences for school groups ranging from Kindergarten – 12th grade. She also works on curriculum development for The Parklands Outdoor and Virtual Classrooms, creating content for field trips, in-school outreach programs, and online learning that aligns with Next Generation Science Standards. Elizabeth attended Western Kentucky University where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and a Master’s Degree in Geosciences, with a special focus on stakeholder communication in UNESCO-designated National Parks. Before coming to The Parklands, Elizabeth worked as a high school science teacher in Las Vegas. Elizabeth makes it her goal to be outside every day, either on a long run through the city or a hike in The Parklands. She also loves to bring the outdoors inside, with a family of four pets and a collection of over 100 houseplants!

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