When I was a kid we used to play outside in the woods, getting our hands dirty and exploring nature. The sight of deer, frogs and even an occasional muskrat was always magical but not uncommon. Today there is one animal in particular that would be a rare find and if you see one, do not touch it.

Should you encounter the threatened 'smiley' or Blanding's turtle in New York, take a picture and leave it alone.

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According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a threatened species is defined as "any species which is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range." This is the case of the Blanding's turtle.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) reports that there are fewer than 3,000 Blanding's turtles throughout New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Maine combined.

Should you be fortunate enough to spot a Blanding's turtle in New York, leave it where it is. You are encouraged to take a picture of it and report your findings to your Regional Wildlife Office. New York State DEC asks you to watch out for turtles on roads, especially during their nesting season from late May to July and avoid haying and mowing fields during this time frame.

The Blanding's turtle is also known as 'smiley' turtles due to the beak of the turtle, which is curved upwards at the corners of the mouth, creating a sense that the turtle is smiling at you.

dec.ny.gov Ryan von Linden
Ryan von Linden

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