Watch out for 'frisky' turtles crossing the road

If you see a hurt turtle, bring it to a wildlife rehab center.
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Minnesota's turtles are "about as frisky as turtles ever get" right now, the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (WRC) says, as they make their way to their summer breeding areas.

But that also puts them at risk of getting hit by a car.

With that in mind, it's important to keep your eyes peeled for turtles on the roads, with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reporting road kills are believed to be a major factor in turtle population declines in the United States.

And in the past few days, dozens of people have brought injured turtles to the WRC. The rehab center says its vets are very good at repairing shells – even the ones that look like they couldn't be fixed.

The center documented one of the patients, and you can see the pre- and post-op photos below. Be warned, the first one is a bit icky.

The photos show the turtle before (left) and after (right) – a vet used a single wire to put the hurt turtle's shell back together. The wire will be taken out before the turtle is released, probably two months from now, the WRC says.

The WRC encourages people to bring in hurt turtles, saying even if the turtle can't be saved, they can "humanely euthanize" it – if a turtle is left for dead, it can take them several days to die on their own.

Tips for helping turtles

The WRC and the Minnesota DNR have tips for helping turtles cross the road:

– Only turtles that are in imminent danger should be moved – using your hands – out of harm’s way. If the turtle can make it across the road safely, leave it be.

– Be safe. Make sure you’re not putting yourself in danger by helping the animal.

– Handle turtles gently – and don’t handle them too much. Pick turtles (except snappers and softshells) up along the shell edge near the mid-point of their body.

– Be aware, many turtles will empty their bladder when they’re picked up off the ground, so don’t drop them if that surprises you.

– Turtles travel miles to get to nesting grounds, so don't move the turtle to a place you think is safer – you could be making it harder and more dangerous for the turtle to get where they're going. Instead, move the turtle in the same direction they were traveling, in as direct a line as possible. Remember, they may not be going towards the water.

– If possible, document your find online here. This will help officials determine what changes need to be made to preserve the turtle population.

– If you pick up a turtle that's injured to bring it to a wildlife rehab center (see a list here), make note of the location (cross streets, address, or any landmark), so when the turtle is ready to be released into the wild, officials can put it back where it was going.

– If you find a hurt turtle, don't put it in water. Just put it in a box and bring it to a rehab center.

For more about helping Minnesota’s nine species of turtles, click here and here.

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