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No joke: Watch out for the turtle crossing the road, drivers are warned

As the weather gets warmer, turtles get more active and nest around Chicago. Which makes roads near lakes, ponds and marshes potential turtle-crossing hotspots.

You know why the turtle wants to cross the road — so watch out, or you’ll run it over.
You know why the turtle wants to cross the road — so watch out, or you’ll run it over.
DuPage County Forest Preserve District

If you drive anywhere in the Chicago area near lakes, ponds or marshes, there’s a good chance turtles might be lurking nearby.

And starting around this time of year, they’re more active. So drivers are being warned to be on the lookout for turtles crossing roads in search of food, water, mates or nests.

Crossings of females increase from mid-May to mid-July as they make their way to and from nesting sites.

“Some turtles must travel up to a mile to find the right conditions,” says Dan Thompson, an ecologist with the DuPage County Forest Preserve District.

Accidentally running down an adult turtle can have a significant impact, Thompson says, because at least 90% of adults must survive each year to sustain a population.

And unlike some animals that you can scare out of your way, “Car horns and flashing lights will have no effect on turtles,” Thompson says. “They simply can’t move any faster to get out of the way. Drivers need to pay attention and do what they can to avoid hitting these animals.”