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Tag Archive | "Turtles"

Turtle observations

Community scientists throughout the state answered the call for rare turtle observation reports this spring.

“Thank you to all of you who took time to report rare turtle observations this spring,” said Amy Bleisch, wildlife technician with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “Your efforts will help inform management decisions in the future for these species. We received over 200 confirmed reports of Blanding’s turtles alone!”

Blanding’s turtles are currently a species of special concern here in Michigan. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is evaluating whether the Blanding’s turtle warrants protection as a federally endangered or threatened species and is drafting a Species Status Assessment to help inform the listing decision. It is anticipated the USFWS will make its decision by September 2023.

Turtle sighting data submitted through the DNR’s Eyes in the Field online reporting system and verified by DNR and Michigan Natural Features Inventory staff, have been submitted for inclusion in the USFWS Species Status Assessment process.

“Staff at Michigan Natural Features Inventory have been immensely helpful reviewing submitted turtle sighting data and verifying reports,” said Dan Kennedy, the DNR’s endangered species specialist. “We work with MNFI staff on a wide variety of projects to make sure we have data and information we need on rare species and habitats to determine conservation actions to take.”

In addition to the data being shared with partners MNFI and USFWS, data are also shared with the Michigan Herp Atlas project, and roadkill turtle reports are shared with the Michigan Department of Transportation.

The Michigan Herp Atlas is another way for community scientists to report reptile and amphibian sightings, beyond the rare species that can be reported through Eyes in the Field. Anyone can report sightings of turtles, snakes, lizards, salamanders, frogs and toads on the newly updated, and mobile friendly, MI Herp Atlas site at MIHerpAtlas.org. Data collected as part of the Michigan Herp Atlas project are also used to help inform conservation decisions.

Reports of turtles and other reptiles and amphibians are welcome throughout the rest of the summer and fall. Reports of rare turtles, including the Blanding’s turtle, eastern box turtle, spotted turtle and wood turtle can be reported through the DNR’s Eyes in the Field turtle reporting form at https://www2.dnr.state.mi.us/ors/Home.

Sightings of eastern massasauga rattlesnakes, a federally threatened species, can also be reported on Eyes in the Field.

Find more ways that you can help turtles and learn about the different species found in Michigan at Michigan.gov/Wildlife. You can learn more about USFWS Midwest Region Species of Concern, including the Blanding’s turtle, at the Region 3: Species of Concern page at https://www.fws.gov/midwest/es/soc/index.html.

Questions? Contact DNR Wildlife Division, 517-284-9453.

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Report reptile and amphibian sightings


From the Michigan DNR

A Blanding’s turtle, a species of special concern in Michigan. Photo courtesy of Michigan DNR.

As you are out enjoying Michigan’s natural resources this summer, please take a moment to help collect valuable information on Michigan’s reptiles and amphibians.

Anyone can help by reporting sightings of turtles, frogs, toads, snakes, salamanders and lizards online at www.miherpatlas.org.

There is also a mobile app available for download to make field reporting quick and easy. The Mobile Mapper is available for Android and iOS (Apple) devices.

The Michigan Herp Atlas Project is the first statewide inventory of reptiles and amphibians ever conducted in Michigan. The project’s purpose is to document the distribution of Michigan’s reptiles and amphibians, collectively known as herpetofauna or “herps.”

In addition, citizen scientists around North America are being asked to report any possible disease cases in reptiles or amphibians to the new Herpetofauna Disease Alert System. More information about this new reporting tool and how to submit an observation can be found at http://wildlife.org/new-herp-disease-alert-system-relies-on-info-from-public.

Learn more about Michigan’s herpetofauna by visiting mi.gov/wildlife – click on Wildlife Species and look for Amphibians and Reptiles.

You also can find out more about Michigan’s snake species by watching our 60-Second Snakes videos.

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Turtle encounters


By Ranger Steve Mueller


Seeing turtles sunning on logs is a joy. At times, a dozen line up on a log. When climbing onto a log, one often climbs on the turtle in front of it creating a row of several turtles propped on the backs of others. They appear like a row of fallen dominos as they warm in the sun.

When Karen and I canoe, turtles pay little attention to us unless we approach too closely. Maintaining a distance allows them to stay on their sun perch. Last week, we drove Chicago’s I-94’s ribbon of pavement that meanders through the city like a river. Turtles often cross ribbons of payment to reach wetlands or to find leg laying areas.

Finding a location for egg survival has become increasingly challenging. The increase in raccoons, skunks, and opossums has had negative impact on turtle egg survival. The increase of roads to serve our growing human population is a deadly challenge for turtle survival.

On I-94, three eastbound lanes were full and bottle-necked at a speed of 20 mph. A cement barrier was present to prevent vehicles from crossing into the on-coming west bound lanes. Traffic flow eastward improved and gained speed to 50 mph as we passed an on-ramp where cars were merging.

A large painted turtle with a shell about 10 inches from front to back was standing where the on-ramp joined with the traffic lane. Its legs and head were retracted into its shell. It faced the three travel lanes. If it proceeded across the three lanes, it is doubtful it would survive to reach the impassible cement center barrier.

I wanted to stop and rescue the turtle from certain death. If I returned it to the roadside vegetation, it might survive. There would be a good chance I would become roadkill if I tried to rescue the turtle so we drove on. Traffic was too heavy for even a large creature like me to enter the traffic lane. There have been many times I could safely rescue a turtle but this was not one of those times.

I made the decision to protect my life instead of the saving the turtles. I asked Karen if we should call 911. We thought the police would not respond so we did not. Perhaps I should have have made the call anyway. Saving a fellow denizen of nature niches is important during this era of turtle decline due to human population growth that is eliminating wetland habitats and requires more road building.

A study was conducted where rubber turtles were placed on a road shoulder. The researcher watched driver behavior. Six in 1000 drove onto the shoulder to deliberately kill the turtle. Some drivers stopped to rescue the turtle. Some people have what I refer to as a “reverence for life” and others do not.

Hunting and fishing licenses help maintain wildlife habitat and turtle survival. People kill turtles for food and laws regulate the take just like fishing and mammal take limits designed to maintain sustainable populations. I find great dismay in roadkill loss, whether it is people killed that we read about weekly or wildlife roadkill. It is such a wasteful death. The DNR attempts to maintain turtle populations from long term decline but it is an enormous, tenuous challenge. I have personally watched people go out their way to kill turtles just because they are present.

Encourage young children to appreciate turtles so they learn when it is appropriate to take turtles like fish or deer and to avoid killing roadside turtles just because they are present. Encourage a reverence for life. Help a turtle that is crossing the road but make sure you do not become roadkill.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net – Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.

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Big Ben to the rescue


Each spring and summer The Post asks readers to help turtles safely cross the road. Ben Robbins Jr., of Big Ben’s Tires in Sand Lake, did just that when he recently spotted this painter turtle sun bathing in the middle of Church Rd. just outside of Howard City. The turtle ran and hissed, but Ben got him to the side of the road where he would be safe.

Thanks, Ben, you are now an honorary member of the Post Turtle Rescue Club!

Remember, if you see a turtle trying to cross the road, you only need to help them to the other side, in the way they were traveling, and please be safe while doing it. And never try to pick up a snapping turtle!



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