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illustration of turtle eggs under chicken wire screen

Turtle Security

NAP guards local nests.

by Tim Athan

From the May, 2021 issue

Turtles start to nest this month, which means that city Natural Area Preservation staff will soon be installing wood-and-wire frames to protect them. But how does NAP know where to put them? Do they hire turtle watchers, train turtle-

nest scouts, maybe even install turtle-cams?

"We don't have people looking for nesting turtles, nor do we have turtle-cams (I wish!)," emails NAP field biologist George Hammond. "We mostly find out about turtle nests from park visitors and park staff who happen to see them nesting and let us know. It can take a turtle many hours to finish nesting, so there is a chance that someone might see.

"We do have some folks who go looking for turtles, but not specifically for nesting turtles. They are volunteers in our Turtle Stewards program. They survey a pond or a stretch of river at least once a month to document how many turtles of our half dozen species are out basking there. They also help monitor artificial nesting mounds that we have in a few parks, to give turtles better spots to nest ...

"Even in remote Michigan wilderness, most turtle nests end up as food for a predator, most often a raccoon, sometimes another mammal. In urban and suburban areas, raccoon populations are artificially high, and then nearly all the nests get devoured. Sometimes turtle populations are just a bunch of adults, nesting year after year with so little egg survival that there are no young turtles.

"By protecting some of the nests we're trying to improve the odds and conserve turtles in the city."     (end of article)

[Originally published in May, 2021.]


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