Eastern Box Turtle

This is an image of an Eastern box turtle at Roger Williams Park Zoo. (WLNE)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — While not listed federally as endangered, the Eastern box turtle is vulnerable, and the reasons why may surprise you.

In addition to habitat loss and people taking wild turtles home as pets, these turtles are being killed by cars and trucks on the roads. There is one more reason for the big recent decline in the Eastern Box turtle population — poaching — right here in Southern New England.

The poached animals are being used for food and pet trades and are shipped illegally to Europe and Asia. Federal authorities have seized thousands of native species at ports heading out of the country. Once recovered, they are sent to zoos for triage and medical treatment, including Roger Williams Park Zoo for possible release back into the wild.

Our native turtles are increasingly at risk and numbers are dropping at such an alarming rate, conservationists warn, the time to act is now.

Lou Perrotti, director of conservation at Roger Williams Park Zoo, said the following things can help native species:

  • Support the zoo
  • Plant native plants in your yard
  • Avoid pesticides/fertilizers
  • Recycle
  • Be aware of what you flush because it ends up in the ecosystem
  • Limit nighttime lighting including bug zappers
Categories: Scientifically Speaking