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Box turtles, like so many species in heavily populated areas, are highly impacted by human activity. As a result, their numbers are declining, primarily due to habitat loss, road deaths, and collection for the pet trade (which is illegal in New Jersey).
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 see. Our own experiences with our captive population, which now numbers over 50, is a testament to how turtle numbers can grow! We are in the process of connecting with agencies and organizations dedicated to preserving wildlife habitat and open space, as well as local groups that are interested in using cutting-edge science to better understand natural populations of native (and invasive) reptiles and amphibians.
As Teacher Turtles continues to grow, we will be posting updates about conservation activities, with box turtles and their cold-blooded neighbors as the primary focus. Of course, when box 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 video on our turtles (and New Jersey turtles in general) as soon as they come out of hibernation!
The following video will take you to another inspiring project on box turtles, which is being conducted in North Carolina, where Terrapene carolina carolina is the state reptile.