ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – It’s yet another side effect of recent heavy flooding all across Missouri — you’re more likely to see turtles on the move and trying to cross busy highways.
“Typically this time of year, in the springtime, it’s not unusual to see turtles in greater numbers crossing roadways in general,” according to Dan Zarlenga with the St. Louis region of the Missouri Department of Conservation. “Because right now this is their mating season. They are looking for mates, they are establishing territory, so they’re on the move more than usual.”
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He knows a lot of drivers feel compelled to stop and help slow-moving turtles reach safety and avoid becoming a speed bump.
But that can be risky, not only to you but to other motorists.
Zarlenga says if you have a clear chance on a lightly-travelled road and absolutely have to help, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
“You can pull over and get out and go ahead and carry that turtle across the road in the same direction that it was going,” he explains. “That’s very important, make sure you take it in the same direction it was going and then set it just off the road on the other side.”
He also knows some people want to take it to the next level and just take that turtle home and keep it as a pet in the bathtub.
Not the greatest option, according to Zarlenga.
“They’re now removed from their natural environment,” he says. “The likelihood of a person being able to feed that turtle properly, give it the right amount of sunlight and other things from the environment it needs, is pretty low.”
Missouri has 17 different kinds of turtles, and all but three of them are protected.
With turtles on the move through about the end of June, the Missouri Department of Conservation Department has a full list of turtle “Do’s & Don’ts” on its website.