Why Did the Turtle Cross the Road? Was it to See the Fawn Sitting by Herself? Probably Not.

May 10, 2024
Image: Mass Wildlife

The latest newsletter from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) has two stories on things that come up here in Bedford.

First, turtles are on the move. From mid-May to early July, thousands of turtles throughout Massachusetts travel to new areas to find food and nest. With all our wetlands in Bedford, you often see them crossing the road. They also show up in areas you might not expect, such as backyards, gravel pits, playgrounds, and other places. Not only are they looking to lay eggs, they are also in search of resources.  

Turtles have a strong homing sense, so it’s best to let them be. If they are in a precarious position, here’s what MassWildlife says to do to help:

What to do if you see a turtle in or near a road:

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  • Be safe. Do not risk getting hurt or causing harm to others by unsafely pulling off the road or trying to dodge traffic. If the opportunity to safely move a turtle from the road occurs, move it in the direction it was heading and off the edge of the road. The turtle is trying to get to habitats and resources it needs and knows. Do not take turtles home or move them to a “better” location. Turtles should not be moved more than 100 yards from where they are found.
  • Handle with care. Most turtles should be grasped gently along the shell edge near the mid-point of the body. However, snapping turtles are fast and have very powerful jaws that can inflict a bad bite. A snapping turtle can reach your hands if you lift it by the sides of its shell. If you must move a snapping turtle, use a broom to coax it into a plastic tub or box. Never lift a snapping turtle only by the tail; this can injure their spine.
  • Slow down, be observant. Watch for turtles on roadways bordered by wetlands on both sides. These areas are commonly used as crossing points. If you see one turtle crossing, there’s a chance that others will be crossing soon as well.
  • Report busy crossing locations. Let MassWildlife know if you see multiple turtles crossing the road or if you see multiple turtles that have been hit by cars. Email location information to [email protected]. You can also contact your town’s Conservation Commission or local conservation groups and support measures to help turtles. Signage, barrier fencing, or seasonal speed bumps can help reduce roadkill.

Spread the word and help protect our native turtles. In addition to five species of sea turtles that frequent our coastal areas, Massachusetts is home to 10 native species of terrestrial and aquatic turtles. Six of the 10 species are protected under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act. Learn more in our native turtles.

Fawns – Abandoned by their mother? – Nope!

To stay hidden from predators, young white-tailed deer spend much of their first 30 days on their own. Learn about fawn development and why you should never approach or take a fawn from the wild even if it’s alone.

Learn more about Fawn phases:

Fawn Phases: Why it’s normal to find fawns alone

Division of Fisheries and Wildlife – May 1, 2024

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