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Why did the turtle cross the road?

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5:46pm, February 24, 2003

From Missoula, Mont., at the annual meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology

Turtles that try to outrace a car instead of a hare do not end well, but analyzing turtle mishaps is giving biologists new information about the animals' habitats.

One of the first studies to monitor the number and gender of turtle traffic fatalities suggests that freshwater turtles move around on land more than expected, says Suzanne Fowle, now of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife in Belchertown.

Just preserving wetlands is not enough to protect the animals, Fowle argues. The species she studied, Chrysemys picta bellii, or the painted turtle, crawl around drier land too and need safe passage to these areas.

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