Turn the Tide for Turtles: Help Them Live to a Very Old Age

With their low metabolism and predator-proof hard shells, our native freshwater turtles are well equipped to live a long life.*  But traffic on roads slicing through habitats along with the polluting and destruction of streams, ponds and wetlands are putting three species of turtles at risk of disappearing altogether.

Time is running out for Blandings, wood and spotted turtles. These declining species inhabit parts of the central and eastern U.S. and Canada. Wherever they live, the challenge is to protect adult turtles and assure hatchlings and young turtles make it to breeding age.

The good news?  State wildlife agencies and partners have a plan to set these turtles on a path to recovery by 2023.  Funding from the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act can make it happen. But only if the wildlife-saving legislation passes.

Take action for turtles by urging passage of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act  

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Turning the Tide in Favor of Turtles

Just as the turtles navigate with a mental map, state wildlife biologists map the journey of restoration. They mark turtles to identify and prioritize habitats to conserve and connect. They protect nests from flooding and hatchlings from predators. They alert motorists and make roads safer. Working together, partners address other serious threats, too, like illegal collecting for the pet trade. With consistent and necessary funding, we can turn the tide in favor of turtles.

wood turtle
Wood turtles are known to thump their chest against the ground to bring a tasty worm to the surface. Photo by Colin Osborn/USFWS

Protecting turtle wetlands, streams and ponds helps other creatures, from fish and ducks to beavers and great blue herons. Conserving their nesting uplands benefits birds like the Baltimore oriole and rose-breasted grosbeak. That’s why these turtles serve as “umbrella species.” Saving turtles benefits hundreds of animals and plants that live in their suite of habitats.

spotted turtle
Spotted turtles rely on a variety of wetland habitats including vernal pools, emergent marsh and shrub wetlands and slow streams. Photo by Mike Jones/MassWildlife

Let’s help all turtles move safely and freely, and live to a ripe old age.


* The oldest documented freshwater turtle was an 83 year-old Blanding’s turtle, recorded by researcher Justin Congdon, still going strong in a Michigan forest preserve. The secret to living a long life? It helps to be a cold-blooded reptile. Low metabolism saves energy and hard shells protect them from predators.