The DuPage County Forest Preserve District is once again advising motorists to watch out for turtles crossing roads.
Despite their hard shells, turtles cannot protect themselves from being hit by vehicles.
“Drivers should pay attention and do what they can to avoid hitting these animals,” forest preserve ecologist Dan Thompson in a statement.
From April through October, turtles often cross roadways in search of water, food, mates and nests. Crossings by females increase from mid-May to mid-July, as the turtles move between nesting sites.
“For their eggs to survive, turtles must find just the right spot for their nests,” Thompson said. “Some turtles must travel up to a mile to find the right conditions.”
According to the forest preserve, the loss of one adult turtle can be significant because at least 90% of adults must survive each year to sustain a population. If the rate drops below this number, the population will be in decline.
For example, a state-endangered female Blanding’s turtle can lay a dozen or more eggs each year and live up to 70 or 80 years. Losing one 30-year-old female means losing the nearly 500 or more hatchlings she would have produced in the remainder of her life.
In addition to the Blanding’s turtle, DuPage County is home to native turtle species like musk, snapping, eastern spiny soft-shell, common map and painted.
Drivers are advised to be vigilant while traveling on roads near lakes, ponds and marshes, which can be turtle-crossing hot spots. Motorists should focus on driving, not speed or tailgate and stay off their phones.
Anyone who finds an injured turtle should consult the DuPage Forst Preserve’s Willowbrook Wildlife Center, which is located at 525 S. Park Blvd., Glen Ellyn. The center cares for injured native wildlife in DuPage County and strives to return them to the wild. Willowbrook accepts wildlife patients from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, but those with rescued animals should call (630) 942-6200 in advance.
For more information, visit dupageforest.org.