Courtesy Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, via ChicagoWildlifeNews.com.
Updated: June 21, 2011 2:09AM
Last fall about 25 Blanding’s turtles were released throughout DuPage County with transmitters glued to their shells.
Now the turtles — an endangered species in Illinois — can share a story.
As part of the project through the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and the DuPage County Forest Preserve District, wildlife experts have begun tracking these turtles to gather data about their preferred habitats and movement patterns.
“We can take them into a nice preserve with habitat, but they are going to be the ones to tell us where they want to be,’’ said Dan Thompson, ecologist for the DuPage County Forest Preserve District. “They may find areas more suitable to their liking.”
The goal of the new survivorship study is to help recover the species, whose population has dwindled over the years as a result of habitat loss and an increase in predators, such as coyotes and raccoons.
So far, the groups have seen about a 40 percent survival rate, according to Celeste Troon, director of living collections at the museum.
“The results are encouraging, but at the same time, is this enough? Are we getting enough out there so that we can reach the numbers and sustain the population?” Thompson said.
Blanding’s turtles — often referred to as a Great Lakes species — are medium in size with a bright yellow throat and chin. With the curved shape of their upper jaw, they often look as though they are smiling.
For many years, the museum has been raising Blandingís turtles in captivity and releasing them when they are about 2 years old. The latest study, though, will provide more information to help boost the “head-start” program.
“Blanding’s are very particular about locations they use and locations they won’t,” Troon said. “They are picky.”
Now that itís nesting season, many turtles can be spotted trying to cross roads. Thompson advises everyone to leave the creatures alone — trying to move them could do more harm than good.
“Each individual is so important, especially when you are talking about low numbers in the population,” he said.