Snapping Turtles Take Over Rockland County’s Western Highway; Drivers Should Proceed With Caution

Slow-moving snapping turtles are crossing Rockland County roadways to lay their eggs — at the risk of oncoming traffic

Caution: it’s turtle season! This time each year, snapping turtles all across the Valley make their migratory journey to lay eggs. Unfortunately, this includes crossing many busy roadways — like the Western Highway in Rockland County. The roadway experiences such a large number of turtle traffic, especially in towns like Nyack and Blauvelt, that the Clarkstown and Orangetown Police Departments have placed signs urging drivers to proceed with caution.

The slow-moving migration has even inspired its own Facebook page, called The Turtles of Western Highway. The group posts photos, videos, and updates on particularly popular crossings where drivers should be most alert. Hudson Valley Magazine reached out to the community page for updates.

snapping turtle crossing
A large snapping turtle safely crosses a section of Rockland County’s Western Highway. Photograph courtesy of the Turtles of Western Highway/

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Once the turtles reach their destinations, they each lay about 40 to 70 eggs in a nest that is then covered with dirt and leaves, allowing the sun’s warmth to incubate the eggs. The turtles will travel up to a mile to reach prime egg-laying land, so these snappers will be crossing many roads at a leisurely pace.  

So, drive safe and keep your eyes peeled for our reptilian pals! It’s not advised to physically move the turtles — simply waiting or carefully moving around them is your best bet — but if you’re in a hurry, take care when relocating the animals. Protect your hands with gloves, and make sure you’ve placed them away from the roadway and in the direction in which they were headed. Keep fingers away from their mouths — they may bite! As always, leave agitated turtles alone, and properly wash your hands afterward.

For more information on how to volunteer as a crossing guard, visit The Turtles of Western Highway’s Facebook page or call 917-657-8935.

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