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Cape Vincent: look out for endangered turtles crossing the road near Wilson’s Bay Marsh

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CAPE VINCENT — Beware of Blanding’s turtles crossing roadways near Wilson’s Bay Marsh.

If you see yellow caution signs near the marsh — in the northeastern corner of Lake Ontario, about 3 miles south of the village — reduce your speed, because it means the slow-moving reptiles could be mixing with traffic ahead.

Ontario Bays Initiative Inc., a Chaumont-based land trust, and the town of Cape Vincent have partnered for the second year in an effort to protect the endangered species during its nesting season.

The town’s Highway Department this month will post yellow caution signs provided by Glenn Johnson, chairman of SUNY Potsdam’s biology department, who has been working to reduce Blanding’s turtle road deaths in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties since 1998.

The effort was started by Cape Vincent resident and OBI board member Carol A. Simpson, who has since partnered with other organizations to protect these medium-size turtles.

Wilson’s Bay Marsh — one of the largest undisturbed scrub-shrub and forested wetlands on Lake Ontario — is a popular nesting and spawning area for Blanding’s turtles, black tern and northern pike.

In a news release, OBI officials said the marsh in Cape Vincent is believed to be home to more than 100 Blanding’s turtles, many of which were saved last year thanks to the signs.

“Over the years, many of the slow-movers have been killed as they attempt the treacherous trip across two lanes of traffic in search of a spot to lay their eggs,” officials said. “Far fewer killed or injured turtles were observed last year when the signs were up.”

For more information on the turtle-crossing project, call Ontario Bays Initiative at 649-6045.

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