Concord, NH – Late summer and early fall is the time when eggs laid by New Hampshire turtles in the spring begin to hatch and future generations emerge from their upland nest chambers. With luck and excellent camouflage, these tiny hatchlings will make it to the safety of a pond, stream, or wetland. In an effort to move ahead with conservation actions while turtle populations overwinter, Fish and Game biologists have been working with local, state, and federal partners, landowners, and land trusts to identify areas within high-priority turtle populations where nesting habitat can be created to decrease the likelihood of females crossing roads or entering residential developments.
“The location of a suitable nesting area is crucial for successful nesting and hatchling survival,” said New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Wildlife Biologist Josh Megyesy. “For some sites, creating nesting areas requires cutting trees to expose the ground to full sunlight and then bringing in sand, while others just need some vegetation cut back and soils scarified with heavy equipment.”
This kind of habitat management in sensitive turtle areas is done during the upcoming winter months when turtles are hibernating in the water and when the ground is frozen. Some of this work has already been initiated in key areas in the Granite State, but more will continue this coming winter and beyond. The Fish and Game Department’s Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program has been monitoring populations of several rare species of turtles throughout New Hampshire, including state-endangered Blanding’s turtles. Through mark-recapture methods and the use of radio telemetry to track individual turtles, biologists have been able to better understand how these turtles use their diverse wetland and upland habitats.
“For two years we followed one particular female Blanding’s turtle,” explained Megyesy. “The first year we tracked her from wetland to