The Missouri Department of Conservation is advising motorists to keep an eye out for turtles crossing the road this spring.
Joe Jerek, a spokesman for the department, said warmer weather brings turtles out of their burrows in search of food and mates, and sometimes they end up on the road.
Jerek says motorists should avoid hitting turtles and brake if it is safe to do so. He also has advice for people who want to help a wayward turtle across the road.
“Make sure you can safely move it with traffic,” he said. “And if you do move the turtle across the road, please move it in the direction that it was heading, or else it’ll just turn back around and cross the road again.”
Box turtles and snapping turtles are two of the most common turtles spotted in Missouri, Jerek said. Habitat loss has contributed to a statewide decline in turtle populations, according to the Department of Conservation’s website.
It’s also illegal to shoot turtles in Missouri. Poachers can be reported to Operation Game Thief.