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Categorized | Outdoors

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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