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Iowa Initiative Aims to Save Turtles From Cars

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

You've probably heard the question, why did the chicken cross the road? But how about, where did the turtle cross the road?

The Iowa Departments of Transportation and Natural Resources are trying to answer that question.

Karen Kinkead, the Wildlife Diversity Program Coordinator at the Iowa DNR, says more turtles cross the road during nesting season.

"Most of Iowa's turtles are aquatic, but they all nest on land," she said. "So they're crossing that road to get to open fields where they can dig a nest."

Crossing the road can be fatal for a turtle, damaging cars in the process.

Brock Struecker is a wildlife biologist for the Iowa DOT.

"They have pretty specific habitat requirements for many of the species, so when a road is cutting that habitat in half, it can have pretty negative effects."

They're trying to identify hotspots where turtles often cross the road. The project also includes salamanders, snakes, frogs, and toads.

The DOT may build underpasses, culverts, or other wildlife crossings at those locations.

Kinkead and Struecker say it's not always safe for people to stop their cars and move turtles out of the road. Another way to help is to report hotspots at tinyurl.com/DNRroadway23.

Rachel graduated from Michigan State University's J-School and has a background in broadcast and environmental journalism. Before WVIK, she worked for WKAR Public Media, Great Lakes Now, and more. In her free time, she likes to cook, hike, and hang out with her cat.