ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — It’s not unusual to see wild turtles around Maryland this time of year, so Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources urges residents to help them when they can.

Common turtles found on the road include eastern box turtles, snapping turtles, painted turtles and red-eared sliders, DNR said.

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“If you need to help a turtle cross the road, check for traffic and move the turtle in the direction it was traveling, until it is safely out of vehicle lanes,” DNR stated. “Do not move the turtle to the side it started from or far away from where it is found.”

Turtles have territories and shouldn’t be taken too far from the area where they are found.

But handling turtles should be done with caution — especially with snapping turtles — who can bite.

“The animal should only be picked up gently using two hands, with your thumbs on the top of the turtle’s shell and other fingers supporting the underside of the shell. Handle the turtle only as long as needed to get it to safety,” DNR stated.

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Another warning: don’t try to take a wild turtle home.

“Like all animals in the wild, turtles can carry diseases and parasites; conversely they can live a long time and often need specialized care,” DNR said.

To protect turtles, the law prohibits the removal of some species from the wild. It is also illegal to possess any turtle under four-inches in length. Reptiles that have been bred in captivity, or which are not native to Maryland, may not be released into the wild. Only individual animals that were taken from the wild may be released back into the wild, and only if:

  • They have not been held in captivity with any other reptile or amphibian;
  • They have not been in captivity for more than 30 days; or
  • Written authorization is given by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

 

 

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