TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) — Wildlife enthusiasts are helping migrating turtles cross an Indiana highway by collecting them in buckets.
The effort, organized through Facebook, also collects data for researchers in Indiana State University’s biology department, the (Terre Haute) Tribune Star reported.
Amber Slaughterbeck, naturalist for the Vigo County Parks and Recreation Department, said this time of year is a busy migration period for the turtles, which typically move northward from the south side of the Wabashiki Fish and Wildlife Area.
According to the group, Wabashiki Turtle Research and Rescue, fewer turtles and other creatures have been killed on U.S. 40 since the Indiana Department of Transportation installed a fence this summer.
When the group arrived at the location Saturday evening, 46 live turtles were rescued along the fence. Another team rescued 11 more Sunday morning.
“The majority of those, if we hadn’t had the fence, probably would have been smashed on the road,” said Leah Dresdow, a member of the group.
Dresdow said five turtles were found dead.
The live turtles are collected in buckets and taken to nearby Lazy L Lake. Members determine the species and gender of each turtle, record any remarkable physical characteristics and note the time of day and environmental conditions when they were found. They also measure the reptiles.
“Once you start saving those little turtles, it’s kind of addictive,” Dresdow said.
The average turtle collected from the area is 5 inches long, but some are as large as 10 inches. The most common species found are painted turtles.