Sign warns drivers to slow down for turtles
State crews in Indiana have put up "Turtle Crossing" signs along a busy road running beside a wildlife area in Terre Haute.
The signs mark an area where turtles of various species are killed by vehicles as they try to cross National Avenue on the northern edge of the Wabashiki Fish and Wildlife Area just west of the Wabash River, said Amber Slaughterbeck, natural resource programmer for the Vigo County parks department.
Slaughterbeck said she hoped the signs will raise awareness among drivers about the danger facing the turtles that she first noticed in 2009 when she was a student at nearby St. Mary-of-the-Woods College. She told the Tribune-Star newspaper she found dead turtles all over the road.
"It was like a massacre of these turtles, so I pulled my car over and started walking along the guardrail," she said. "At that point, I thought I would save just a few turtles and see where it goes. I came back the next day and the next day and realized that there were a lot of turtles to be saved."
Slaughterbeck and volunteers have moved more than 2,000 turtles from the roadside to a nearby lake in recent years.
Indiana Department of Transportation spokeswoman Debbie Calder said the signs are temporary while the agency considers ways to protect the reptiles. She said the ultimate plan is to raise money for fencing and tunnels.
"It is not just the turtles. We have pulled river otters out of the road," she said. "We ideally would like a tunnel big enough to allow the river otters, the beavers and all the other animals to cross underneath."
Critical thinking challenge: Why are so many turtles near this busy highway?