By Molly Daly
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – When you’re out walking or driving and see a turtle in the road, what should you do?
One local wildlife rehabilitator says to help it get where it’s going.
“As long as the turtle is not injured, you should move the turtle across the road in the direction that it is heading,” Schuylkill Center Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic director Rick Schubert tells KYW Newsradio.
Schubert says turtles have a strong home range fidelity — so across the road is as far as you should take it:
“If you relocate the turtle to somewhere you think is safer, you think you’re doing the turtle a favor, but you’re not. And through mechanisms we don’t understand, the turtle’s gonna try to spend the rest of its life getting back where it came from, meaning crossing more roads and putting itself in much more danger.”
Taking the turtle home, Schubert says, is not an option:
“Box turtles, which are the most common turtles you’ll find around here — their numbers are declining. And fortunately, it’s illegal by state laws to take them from the wild and keep them as pets, and that’s one of the reasons why box turtles are declining.”
Schubert says people often wrongly assume that baby bunnies or fawns have been abandoned when there’s no sign of a parent, but that’s how those animals keep their babies safe from predators:
“The mom leaves them alone all day long — they leave them hidden — and they’re off feeding themselves so they can produce milk for their babies.”
He says finding the creatures alone is perfectly normal, and unless they’re injured, keep your distance, and let them be.
Schubert adds people often unwittingly kidnap baby animals in a misguided effort to help them:
“Sometimes we interfere too much, and it’s better to leave the animal alone. But it’s very encouraging working here to see how many people care about the creatures that share the world with us.
If you find an injured animal, Schubert says to contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.
The Schuylkill Center Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic is open seven days a week, and has a wealth of information on its website.