Linking Landscapes for Massachusetts Wildlife: Help study wildlife!

Ever wondered what it would be like if our roads and highways were constructed in such a way that bridges were impassable, roads were blocked by large objects, or if you had to dodge pedestrians walking across a four-lane highway. Driving would become a hair-raising experience and your chances of actually reaching your destination would be greatly reduced.

Now think about what it is like for wildlife to have to cross that four-lane highway, for a fish to swim through a perched culvert with no place to rest inside, for a turtle to have to crawl up and over the road to get to the wetland on the other side.

In an effort to improve landscape connectivity and to reduce the impact of the existing road network on wildlife, MassWildlife and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) have joined together to launch the “Linking Landscapes for Wildlife” program. By reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions, you not only improve public safety, but you also improve the ability of these critters to cross our roads safely. A critical strategic component of the program is to gather information on the locations of wildlife roadkill hotspots. This is where your observations come in handy!

The effort includes three focus areas:

Starting this Spring, there will be a special focus on identifying turtle roadkill hotspots. Volunteers are needed to monitor turtle roadkill sites and report findings to the Turtle Roadkill Monitoring Project.

Survey Protocols

  • Identify turtle roadkill hotspots and confirm with project coordinators.
  • Surveys will be conducted (1) last week of May, (2) second week of June, and (3) last week of June. If possible, a follow-up survey will be conducted the first two weeks of September to estimate hatchling mortality.
  • Record number, species, and age (adult, juvenile, hatchling) of all turtle carcasses.
  • Use best judgement in determining whether partial carcasses represent a single turtle.
  • Collect all of the turtles found during the survey; photograph them in species groups.
  • Notecards should be used to identify species, survey site, and survey date.
  • Remove all turtles and shell fragments from the site so they will not be re-counted.
  • Report data at http://linkinglandscapes.info by September 30th, 2010.

Safety Considerations

  • Survey between 10 am and 2pm to avoid rush hours.
  • Survey in pairs, with one partner watching for on-coming traffic, while the other surveys.
  • Walk on the on the outside of guardrail, curb or shoulder, and visually inspect edge of roadway and shoulder for turtle carcasses. When crossing, ensure that no traffic is traveling in either direction prior to crossing the road by looking both ways.
  • Surveys should be conducted by Adults ONLY. Wear bright/reflective clothing and/or safety vest.
  • Do not select sites on interstate highways.
  • Contact the project coordinators at MassDOT/MassWildlife with additional questions.

Additional Links:

For help indentifying turtles, visit Turtle Conservation Project or Natural Heritage Endangered Species Program.

Contacts:

Tim Dexter (MassDOT): timothy.dexter@state.ma.us

Mike Jones (NHESP): Michael.t.jones@state.ma.us, (508)389-6386

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