Blanding's Turtle Conservation Work Honored in Illinois
January 23, 2014
The Illinois Parks and Recreation Association is honoring the St. Charles Park District in St. Charles, IL for its efforts to educate the public about the endangered Blanding's turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) and for its work with the Blanding's Turtle Recovery Project. The district has more than 10 Blanding's turtles at its Hickory Knolls Discovery Center in a 500 gallon habitat that features a pond, a small waterfall, and a beach for the turtles to haul out on. These turtles are part of a breeding program designed to replenish the wild populations and to send to other agencies for educational purposes, Pam Otto, manager of natural programs and interpretive services at the park district told The Chicago Tribune. Otto said the discovery center hosts a lot of educational events for area schools and community groups where students and those in the community learn about the importance of the Blanding's turtle and other endangered species.
The Blanding's Turtle Recovery Project has taken a proactive approach to help bolster the wild populations. In addition to breeding the turtles that are in captivity, under the guidance of Dan Thompson, an ecologist who leads the project at the DuPage County Forest Preserve District, volunteers collect eggs from wild Blanding's turtle nests and hatch them in a semi-controlled environment to avoid predation. The eggs are housed in an outdoor enclosure that minimizes human interaction but allows snails and other insects to come into the enclosure for the turtles to feast on while keeping predators out. This procedure enables the turtles to grow without being accustomed to being fed by hand.
The Blanding's turtle is on the CITES list of protected species. It can grow up to nine inches in length and has a life span of more than 70 years in captivity and in the wild. It has a long neck and a yellow chin, traits of which they are known for.
Ryan M. Bolton/Shutterstock
The Blanding's turtle is on the CITES list of protected species.