Public asked to report Blanding’s turtle sightings to the DNRNEW ULM — Anyone seeing a rare Blanding’s turtle in southwestern Minnesota is asked to report that sighting to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), to help with ongoing research on the species.
By: Associated Press, Worthington Daily Globe
NEW ULM — Anyone seeing a rare Blanding’s turtle in southwestern Minnesota is asked to report that sighting to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), to help with ongoing research on the species.
Blanding’s turtles have a domed, dark upper shell with many scattered yellow flecks. The bottom of the shell is yellow with black splotches. Perhaps most distinctive is their bright yellow chin and throat.
Since 1984, Blanding’s turtles have been classified as a threatened species in Minnesota and are considered a Minnesota Species in Greatest Conservation Need. Their distribution is shrinking and remaining populations are fragmented.
“Citizen reports are important because Blanding’s turtles are difficult to survey,” according to Laurinda Brown, DNR nongame wildlife specialist. “There could be many populations that we don’t know about.”
Blanding’s turtles have been studied in southwestern Minnesota since the mid-1990s. Brown is part of a research team that has been studying the Blanding’s turtle population in Martin County since 2007. She said that although these turtles can live to be 80 years old, they have been hit hard by the loss of wetland and upland habitat through the years, drastically limiting their ability to reproduce. Even small changes in their environment or the loss of a few individuals can have a big effect on the population.
“This is a prime time to spot Blanding’s turtles as females leave the protection of wetlands to nest on dry, sunny hillsides,” Brown said. “Sightings could occur in crop fields, yards or on roadways.”
Brown said that people who see a Blanding’s turtle should not disturb it, but should record the location and time it was seen, and take a photo if possible. Email the information to Brown at email@example.com, or call her at 507-359-6039.
Brown said that the health of Blanding’s turtles is directly related to the health of a watershed. Efforts to improve watersheds through integrated, cooperative conservation practices will positively impact water quality as well as habitat for numerous wildlife species, including the Blanding’s turtle.
For more information on Blanding’s turtles, visit the DNR Rare Species Guide at www.mndnr.gov.