Local group encourages volunteers to save the turtles this season

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Amber Slaughterbeck, Regional Specialist with the Indiana Invasives Initiative, has a passion for saving turtles.

“We rescue six different species. Red eared sliders, painted turtles, common snapping turtle our favorite, my favorite,” said Slaughterbeck. “Box turtles, musk turtles and our softshells.”

She and the Wabashiki Turtle Research and Rescue team have saved 3,000 turtles over the last 10 years.

“When Amber started rescuing turtles all those years ago, she just saw a need. And the need is still there,” said volunteer Ellen Lunsford. “They can’t save themselves so somebody has to do it.”

The turtles call the Wabashiki wetlands in West Terre Haute home.

But there’s a problem.

“Unfortunately a lot of roadways are cutting through their habitat,” said Slaughterbeck.

In the summer months, the wetlands begin to dry up, which forces the turtles out and onto the highway.

“We’ve had as many as at least 60 or 70 turtles in a day before,” said Lunsford.

A turtle fence was installed on the West Terre Haute grade two years ago, which has helped keep turtles off the road, according to Slaughterbeck, “We pick them up before they hit the road,” 

Despite the fence, turtle crossing is still an issue in West Terre Haute, and it requires help from volunteers.

“I know there’s so many, and It’s kind of like the starfish story. Like you can’t save them all, but you can save some of them,” said Lunsford. “So it does make a difference to the ones that you can save.”

If you would like to become a turtle saving extraordinaire, click on the link for the group’s Facebook page.

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