NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WTVF) – In the heat of summer, turtles are often found crossing roads or moving through yards. It is a major cause of turtle mortality.
According to Debbie Sykes of Nashville Wildlife Conservation, the two main killers of turtles by humans are collisions with cars or lawn mowers.
“Right now the turtles are looking for a place to lay their eggs. So often people will see them crossing the road or maybe going out into a high meadow to mow their lawns and lay their eggs,” said Sykes.
Turtles can live as long as humans or longer. They often spend their time in the same area of three kilometers or less all their lives.
With development spreading to Nashville, turtles often venture far from ancient habitats in search of places to lay their eggs. NWC is collecting injured turtles and hopes to attempt to rehabilitate more than 100 turtles in 2021.
“Turtles are very important to the ecosystem, they are an indicator of the health of an ecosystem,” said Julie Henry, who participates in the NWC mission but also works at Shelby Bottoms Greenway. Henry collects turtle eggs and tries to hatch them in an incubator.
According to Henry, the turtle population is suffering due to man-made factors.
People are bound to see turtles on the road through middle Tennessee and southern Kentucky.
Here’s what Henry and Sykes suggest people do when a turtle is on the road. As long as it is safe to park the car, a person can help the turtle cross the road by picking it up and moving it in the direction it was already heading across the road.
Do not try to move the turtle to another location. Turtles usually return to where they feel is their home. In addition, many turtles are not good swimmers. So putting them in a lake could harm the turtles.
Sykes said anyone who finds an injured turtle should contact Nashville Wildlife Conservation. They will try to help.