Seeking solutions for safe turtle crossings

ELIOT, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Why did the turtle cross the road? For the few turtles brave enough to try crossing Route 236, trying to reach the other side is no joke, but a walk on the wild side.

"I would say that Route 236 is a particularly treacherous road for turtles," stated Inland Fish and Wildlife biologist, Derek Yorks.

The state has received numerous reports of turtles being struck along this section of road. Now, a small team of biologists are working with the Maine Department of Transportation to come up with a plan to protect them.

"That is kind of why we are here today, to kind of explore some of those options and think about how realistic some of them might be," said Yorks.

Some of the options they have include adding signs to warn drivers, erecting fencing along the roadway to keep the turtles from being struck, and building passageways beneath the road's surface.

"We need something that doesn't solve a problem for one species and create a problem for another," he explained.

"Turtles are very long-lived animals that take a long time to reach maturity and replace themselves, so every time you lose an adult turtle it can take a decade or two decades to replace that individual, provided that there are still enough in the population to do that," he added.

Yorks says the issue of turtles versus traffic is a problem all over the state, and it is not just a matter or survival for the reptiles, but a concern when it comes to people's safety, too.

"People swerve for turtles, people stop for turtles, and it is not really safe to be on the side of the road," said Yorks. "I don't feel great about being on the side of this road as a human, never mind being a small turtle."

He advises people who see a turtle crossing the road to try an avoid striking it if the can. If the road is not too busy, he says it is ok to help a turtle out by moving it in the direction they were headed, but says it is not a good idea for people to bring the turtle anywhere else as they are stubborn and moving them far from the road really isn't helpful.


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