Virginia Eastern Box Turtle Census Project launched to save a species

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Eastern Box Turtle Census Project

Eastern Box Turtles will be counted to help them thrive in Virginia (Photo Courtesy: Virgina Department of Wildlife Resources)

RICHMOND, Va. (WFXR) — Virginia is home to a creature that can live for more than 100 years in the wild, the eastern box turtle, but the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) thinks box turtle numbers may be declining.

Now, there is an effort underway to get a better count of the turtles to save them, and to help them thrive. The DWR and the Virginia Herpetological Society have launched the Eastern Box Turtle Census Project.

Eastern box turtles are found in nearly every Virginia county. Unlike most other turtles, eastern box turtles are not aquatic.  They live primarily on land in wooded areas or areas with plant cover.

The census project will help DWR monitor eastern box turtles to monitor populations, create distribution maps, and determine strategies to help the species thrive. 

You can recognize eastern box turtles by their distinctive high-domed shell with yellow or orange blotches. They are small creatures, measuring only about six inches long. 

Humans present threats in various ways. Many turtles are hit by vehicles as they try to cross roads from one patch of forest to another. 

Pesticides and environmental threats are also having an impact on eastern box turtle numbers.

Because eastern box turtles can not move very quickly, they are easy for people to capture and take home as pets. However, wildlife experts warn once eastern box turtles are placed in captivity for an extended period, they lose their ability to survive in the wild.

You can take part in the Eastern Box Turtle Census Project by using an online form at the VHS website.

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