- Bungee-cord your garbage cans and don't leave pet food outside overnight.
Artificially high raccoon populations, whose diets are supplemented by our trash and pet food, are the main reason why as few as 0 - 7% of turtle eggs and hatchlings survive through their first year.
Garbage is an unnatural and dependable food source throughout the year that's allowed raccoons and other turtle predator populations to skyrocket and then remain stable. These artificially increased numbers of predators are no longer taking 'their fair share'; they're eating 93 - 100% of turtle nests annually and throwing our turtle populations into a tailspin.
The good news? Securing your trash cans and bringing your pet food inside is easy and it makes all the difference!
- Use Bycatch Reduction Devices (BRD) on your crab pots.
Like all turtles, terrapins breathe air. BRDs prevent the smaller male and young female terrapins from squeezing into your crab pots to nibble on your crabs before they drown (it’s also the law in most states!).
Part of a terrapin's charm is that they are very curious and inquisitive. Unfortunately that means they often follow one another into a crab pot where they both drown, so by using a BRD, you may also keep many more terrapins from dying.
Can't find BRDs at your local store? Send us an email and we'll get you some.
- If you’re out in a boat, use heavy shears to snip an exit route in “ghost” crab pots.
Ghost crab pots, or obviously abandoned crab pots that broke loose of their moorings, can continue fishing for wildlife and drowning terrapins for many years. Cutting an escape hatch that's roughly the size of the entrance funnels will allow trapped animals to escape these lost and untended crab pots.
- Have you spotted a terrapin finishing her nest?
Keep still and watch her from a distance. Most nests are eaten by a predators within the first 24 - 48 hours. When she's finished, place a large, weighted piece of hardware cloth over the nest for the first week to help keep raccoons, skunks and foxes from pawing up those critically needed eggs.
- If you see terrapins in food markets or pet stores contact your state's wildlife violation line.
It's illegal to sell wild terrapins in the Chesapeake Bay states.
- If you find a turtle moving across the road, make sure you'll be safe first and then move it across in the direction it was headed to safety.
When you get home, please send us an email so we can note any high-turtle-traffic areas.
Also, never move a turtle to a new area. While another spot may seem better, it is not that turtle's home. As a result, it will use its homing instincts to make its way back to its home territory, which means it will likely cross yet more unsafe roads in the process.
- If you or your town has shoreline property, investigate alternatives to rip-rap for erosion control that maintain a terrapin's access to nesting beaches.
The Living Shorelines program is one example. These types of erosion control have the added benefits of lasting much longer and maintaining nesting beaches further downstream (plus they are far more attractive to look at!).
- Learn more about terrapins and why they are an important part of the Chesapeake Bay.
- Share what you know and love about terrapins with others!
This might be the most important thing you can do to save our terrapins!