Blanding's Turtles

The Blanding’s turtle (Emys blandingii) has been designated as an “Immediate Concern” species in the Pennsylvania Wildlife Action Plan, and has been on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s candidate list since the 1970’s. However, very little information on the species’ distribution in Pennsylvania exists; the species was last officially documented in the state in 1983. Consequently, there is a dire need for current information on the presence and distribution of Blanding’s turtles in Pennsylvania.

This study proposes to collect the necessary data to determine the status of the Blanding’s turtle in the state. Historic locations are being surveyed to determine if those populations remain, and areas holding potential habitat will be assessed in an effort to discover new populations.

The first year of field research has already been completed with four individual Blanding’s turtles encountered in the Lake Erie basin and the mid and lower Conneaut Creek Watershed in northwestern Pennsylvania, which is the historic range of the species in the state. All of the Blanding’s turtles that are captured will have the appropriate data recorded: exact location, age class, sex, health of animal, habitat information, etc. These data will help to determine not only the distribution of individuals, but also the size and viability of each Blanding’s turtle population in Pennsylvania. The final report to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission will detail the survey methods and results, the status of the Blanding’s turtle in Pennsylvania, the turtle’s most important ecological requirements, and management recommendations based on our findings.

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