Endangered Species Report – Eastern Box Turtle

Eastern box turtles used to be extremely common less than 10 years ago, but now they are on the threatened species list. My last visit to Kansas was nearly 8 years ago, but I still remember seeing box turtles of all sizes trucking across busy roads and peering around in fields. My family has relocated here now and I have seen only one that I saved off the freeway. Freeways and other roads are one of the reasons why these awesome creatures are becoming threatened and in the future possibly endangered. Endangered species are around us even though most of us may not notice them. Turtles, reptiles and terrapins of the sort can be protected very easily and inexpensively by putting up barriers and other road kill prevention. Stopping the construction of roads and buildings to prevent the killing of a species is impractical and impossible, but slowing down the turtle’s demise can help a lot.

I was born in Overland Park 14 years ago and lived here for 6 years. Almost every day my dad would come home with a turtle or a snake. Surprisingly, I have only seen one live box turtle and one rat snake and at least a dozen dead turtles since I’ve moved back to the area. My speculation is that many are getting run over. The number of turtles and other reptiles are down very noticeably.

Box turtles and other animals not only reptiles are losing their habitat and their natural environments. Places where turtles can call home are disappearing. Buildings, roads and other structures built by man are taking up space, animal’s space. Animals that cross the road are going to become road kill because the majority of animals that are exposed to streets get killed. People aren’t looking to run over animals but they aren’t careful enough to avoid the animals, that’s why creatures are getting hit. Other reasons for the population decline is litter, turtles and other animals will think a red piece of plastic is a cherry tomato. Eating it they choke and die. Another reason is box turtles are very sensitive to chemicals like pesticides sprayed on greens which are their primary source of food.

As stated earlier there are some ways to prevent the mass killings of some really cool animals. Not very practical but small fences could be placed on high kill zones on roads to keep the turtles back. Some experiments using this method on small stretches of road have resulted in high success, if it can be done for deer why not for turtles? Some turtles are detracted from smells and scent barriers could be placed to keep box turtles and maybe other creatures from crossing streets.

My Opinion

Box turtles and other threatened species should be saved and conserved since they are an element in our world that cannot be replaced. Just like we save the planet by recycling, we should save the herps by putting small fences up to keep them off the streets. Scent barriers in my opinion are impractical and should not be placed since it could harm the creatures. Endangered and threatened species like box turtles are around us even though drivers don’t notice them. I think they should all be helped and protected.

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