About the same time The Missourian published a photo in the April 10 issue of turtles sunning themselves on a log on high water in a field on the south side of Westlink Drive, the Associated Press released a story about “drivers urged to brake for turtles crossing Missouri roads.” The photo, which included a white egret next to the turtles on the log, told a story of spring sunning and how pleasing it is to wildlife, along with humans.
The Missouri Department of Conservation reported that vehicles kill thousands of box turtles every year. Turtles are more active in the spring, according to the agency, and that’s why they are crossing highways and especially rural roads at this time.
Conservation agents say turtles come out of their burrows and start hunting for food and mates during warm, wet conditions. Conservation agents said males sometimes travel (at a slow pace, to be sure) as far as six miles searching for territories and mates. Females also cross roads in search of places to nest.
Conservation officials told the AP that most Missouri turtles can live up to 30 years, but the common box turtle can live to be 80 and some live to be 100.
We don’t know how turtle road kill compares to other wildlife victims, but they seem to be outnumbered by other species, such as deer and opossums.