Animal experts in Stone Harbor say hot and humid days like today are ideal for terrapin nesting in South Jersey.
Thousands of cars drive in-and-out of South Jersey's coastal communities every day, but at this time of the year, motorists aren't the only ones on the road.
Lisa Ferguson is the Director of Research and Conservation at The Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor and explained, "It’s the beginning of their nesting season."
For two weeks now, the staff at the Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor has been monitoring terrapins as they lay their eggs throughout Cape May County. Ferguson told NBC40, "We started our patrols on May 28th of this year, and as of today, we have over 50 road-kills that we've encountered along that patrol. Some years it's doubled that by this point in the season."
Researchers at The Wetlands Institute want residents and tourists to know they can help some of the terrapins crossing the street in their towns. Ferguson explained, "It's best to pick her up from behind and then cross her in the direction she was traveling."
Bill Doughty Jr. is a co-founder of the Margate Terrapin Rescue Project said, "It's a very dangerous situation. We don't advocate people getting out of their cars to move turtles across the road. If they do it on their own volition, you move the turtle in the direction it's going, and ideally, you get it back in the water or close to the water. That's where they do best."
For some motorists, they've noticed the additional traffic on coastal roads.
Jill Mumie helped a terrapin cross the street in Avalon Manor Tuesday afternoon and told NBC40, "Just in this one morning, going out to get coffee, I probably saw three trying to cross the road and maybe four or five that didn't make it and had been hit by cars."
But on the upside, experts at The Wetlands Institute say they have also had about 30 saves and three rescues of injured terrapins, which have been successfully rehabilitated this year.
Ferguson said, "We try to make the best of a bad situation along our coastal roads."
Animal experts urge all drivers to keep an eye out this nesting season.
Officials with the Margate Terrapin Rescue Project also tell us that this past spring, they raised over $10,000 to replace about 6,000 feet of Sandy damaged barrier fencing, which helps to keep the terrapins off the roads.
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