Lincoln seeing a spike in the number of turtles injured by cars

LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) -- Wildlife rescuers in Lincoln are urging drivers to look twice this summer, as a slower creature is finding itself in traffic more often. Turtles are being brought in with injuries from cars at a rate they haven't seen before.

Turtles are popping up around Lincoln in places they don't normally roam. It’s all part of their mating and egg laying process but as they move into more unknown territory they are seeing more humans and cars.

Lynne Knutzen works with the Wildlife Rescue Team in Lincoln. She says this summer she’s received an alarming amount of injured turtles.

"You can definitely tell if it’s been hit,” said Knutzen. “It will have cracks in its shell, and if that’s the case if you have anything that you carry in your car any kind of blanket or towel you can always use to pick-up the turtle with, never pick it up with your bare hands."

Knutzen says this time of year female turtles venture away from water sources to lay eggs on drier land.

Which as Lincoln expands, may now require them to cross busy streets.

"The females that once again are trying to cross the road,” said Knutzen. “They end up getting hit by a car, some of them we can rehab and some of the unfortunately we can't."

Animal Control says if you see a turtle they are usually just passing through and to never try to pick it up with bare hands and to never take them inside as pets.

"Don’t handle them, there’s always a risk of getting bacteria off of them,” said Steve Beal the director of Animal Control. “Turtles in particular are something that people can pick up bacteria from and its usually salmonella."

Knutzen says as turtles become more common in Lincoln that people should always be aware, on and off the road.

“If you see a turtle that’s trying to cross a street or highway, whatever way it’s trying to cross it’s trying to go there for some reason,” said Knutzen. “Pick it up and take it whatever direction it’s headed, that’s the best thing to do."

Wildlife experts say if you are unsure if a turtle is injured or in danger, contact the Nebraska Humane Society.