Reward offered to find lost NIU research turtle

Researchers say they have no leads on animal's whereabouts

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A cash reward is now being offered for finding the Blanding’s turtle that was being tracked by Northern Illinois University and the Forest Preserve Committee before it was lost.

Local attorney Riley Oncken, a former member of both the DeKalb County Board and Forest Preserve Committee, has offered a $250 reward to anyone who finds and returns the endangered turtle that researchers had been tracking for about two years.

Oncken also pledged $250 to anyone who could find a female mate for the turtle so it will settle down and stop searching for one.

“I think it is important to preserve the amazing wildlife we have in our forest preserve and would like to encourage the growth of the (Blanding’s) turtle population in the County,” Oncken said in a statement. “I am conscious of the financial limitations that exist in the budget and private donations for a purpose like this seemed like a better way to handle it than to use tax dollars.”

Researchers lost track of the turtle recently when a well-meaning farmer removed the antenna from the tracking device attached to the turtle's shell, thinking it had been injured.

The story of the missing turtle went viral with radio programs in Chicago and publications across the suburbs and even as far as Seattle.

All Roloff, natural resource manager with the DeKalb County Forest Preserve District, has received a lot of calls of turtle sightings, but none of them have been the missing Blanding’s turtle.

“In this case,” Roloff said, “no news is not good news.”

Roloff said DeKalb forest officials have reason to believe that the transmitter is still attached to the turtle’s shell with an adhesive and it’s waterproof – if the antenna is still attached, which it’s not.

Cook County Forest Preserve District officials said they would search for the turtle during their next flyover to track the urban coyote population, Roloff said, but he hasn’t heard any update on that.

Any sightings of the turtle should be reported to the Forest Preserve Committee.