Box turtles are becoming scarce due to habitat destruction, car accidents, and the pet industry. Some studies show that box turtles moved from their home range do not survive. We do not have a lot of information about box turtles such as home range size, food habits, and reproduction. Our study will help biologists better understand box turtles and help to conserve them for future generations.
Box Turtle populations are declining across the United States due to habitat loss and human interference. With a decrease in forested areas, turtles are more likely to be found in roads or urban neighborhoods. When turtles are found in roads, people often relocate the turtle to a "better" location. Relocated turtles spend the rest of their lives getting back to their home, and may die in the process. Humans also take turtles out of the wild to sell or keep as pets.
This project will help biologists determine whether or not turtles are able to survive in urban areas, with the help of citizen scientists. The public will be encouraged to actively search for turtles in their yards and take photos to document individual turtles. A photo-ID app is being developed to be able to identify individual turtles across North Carolina to determine a population estimate. This is needed for future protection of box turtles.
The results of this study will help conserve the populations by determining the population of box turtles in North Carolina and help determine whether or not it is declining. In addition, we need a better idea of whether or not turtles are surviving in urban landscapes. If turtles are disappearing, as biologists assume, we can convince lawmakers to make it illegal to take turtles out of the wild, as well as educate the public on how to conserve these threatened animals.