Have You Noticed an Uptick in Turtles All Over the Maine Mainland?
It's something that I've noticed while driving up and down the Maine Turnpike and 295, especially over the last couple of months -- random turtles on the side of the highway. At least, I've noticed their half-shells. I haven't noticed a head poking out or any other part of the turtle except the half-shell.
But the location just seems so random. Just to the left of the pavement, stationary in the first patch of grass that borders the actual highway? Did they somehow make their way onto the roadway and get hit? Did a selfless, wildlife and nature-loving Mainer stop traffic to remove the turtle from harm's way in the roadway and the turtle just couldn't make it back to water?
Multiple species of turtles are native to Maine
You may be surprised to learn that even though the first sea-dwellers that come to mind when you think Maine is lobstah and clams (because of the Yarmouth Clam Festival and, of course, chowdah), there's over a handful of native species of turtles to Maine. According to All Turtles, there are actually seven different species native to Vacationland, plus two species of sea turtles.
Of the list of native turtles listed by All Turtles, I'd take a guess that the ones I've seen along the sides of multiple Maine highways look the most similar to the common snapping turtle.
Hundreds of turtles were documented in Maine Audubon's Road Kill Survey
If you didn't realize Maine Audubon conducts a road kill survey throughout the state, they do. The last one accessible on their website was from February 2021, where it was highlighted that over the last three years, of the 346 reptiles documented as road kill, 286 of those were turtles. So, even though almost 300 turtles have been observed as road kill over the last three years, it still just seems like it's more visible over the last couple of months for some reason.
Of course, turtles aren't just visible motionless on the side of the Turnpike or 295 in Maine, as evidenced by these shots posted on Facebook a couple of days ago by both Tabitha Modery and Ryan Caron. While in Bridgton, they observed a big fella essentially sunbathing on a rock for all to see (albeit difficult to see, since it almost blended in with the rock it was on chameleon style.)
If you come across any Maine wildlife, bordering a highway or not, and you want to help, Brunswick-based Herp Haven has information on how to help rescue whatever you come across. And even though in the caption of her post, Tabitha was speaking specifically about Bridgton, it can be applied to the entire state, too.
"Bridgton, Maine is so beautiful!"