The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is thinking of putting the Minnesota blanding turtle under protection through the Endangered Species Act. The turtle is among 21 other species which will be needing protection. Their biggest threat is being run over by motor vehicles and trucks – according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, many Blanding’s turtles are killed each year as they migrate between wetlands and cross roads.
Blanding’s turtle (Emys blandingii or Emydoidea blandingii) is a semi-aquatic turtle of the family Emydidae. These turtles were found in huge numbers before – spreading to the Great Lakes region and much of Northeastern US – but there numbers have been dwindling in recent years due to hunting, declining habitats, climate change. Predation on hatch-lings by hunters/pet traders are also part of the reason – they are targeted for their bright yellow chins and throats.
The Fish and Wildlife Service also said it will pursue listing several frogs, toads, snakes and salamanders.
The announcement comes nearly three years after environmental groups asked for the animals to be listed. More than 200 scientists sent a letter asking the Service to review the status of the animals.
“Blanding’s turtles, spotted turtles and Illinois chorus frogs are dying out mostly because people are destroying their wetland homes,” said Collette Adkins, a biologist and lawyer for the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement. “Endangered Species Act protection for these rare turtles and frogs will help protect these essential areas from destruction.”
“Frogs and turtles are integral parts of the wild where they live, whether it’s a remote forest stream or a suburban wetland,” said Adkins. “Losing them will impoverish those places and our own connection with the natural world.”
For more information on Blanding Turtles: Blanding Turtles