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Box turtles, like so many species in heavily populated areas, are highly impacted by human activity. As a result, their populations are shrinking, primarily due to habitat loss, road deaths, and collection for the pet trade (which is illegal in New Jersey and many other states). Around the world, many other turtle species are also in decline, often for similar reasons.
These losses are preventable, however, primarily through education and sensible land management. One major goal of Teacher Turtles is to boost populations of Eastern box turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina) across New Jersey and neighboring states, preserving an iconic reptile for future generations to experience. Our own semi-captive population, which now numbers over 50 and includes 9 eggs that have recently hatched, is a testament to how turtle numbers can rebound when given a chance! We are in the process of connecting with agencies and organizations dedicated to preserving wildlife habitat and natural spaces, as well as groups that are interested in finding ways to connect cutting-edge science with conservation principles to preserve native species.
As Teacher Turtles grows, we will be posting updates about conservation activities, with turtles and their cold-blooded neighbors as the primary focus. Of course, when turtle habitat is preserved, a whole host of other species will thrive.
The video below was made to highlight the plight of Eastern box turtles in Indiana; we hope to make a similar videos on a variety of turtles as this project grows.
The following video will take you to the project that inspired Teacher Turtles, which is being conducted in North Carolina. Photos of the workshop that The Herp Project hosted at Haw River State Park in June 2016 can be found here.