The Department of Fish and Game has partnered with Bristol-Myers Squibb and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to develop a program to restore and protect Blanding's Turtle habitat. The program will provide educational and volunteer opportunities for the employees of Bristol-Myers Squibb and their families.
Essential to the protection of Blanding’s Turtle is the improvement of wildlife corridors, protection of nesting habitat, and education of the public about the conservation needs of this species. Early efforts by the USFWS, DFG, and Bristol-Myers Squibb have included a volunteer work effort along a busy roadway to repair fencing and a wildlife conservation information table at the Devens Earth Day Celebration. The fence repair project has already paid dividends. In 2007, before any fencing was erected, surveys conducted by DFG's Division of Fisheries and Wildlife during the turtle nesting season showed 43 turtles had been killed by cars, 5 of them Blanding’s turtles. In 2008, along the same stretch of highway, where fencing was erected and fence repairs made by Bristol-Myers Squibb employee volunteers, a total of 4 turtles were found killed, none of which were Blanding’s turtles.
All three partners plan to meet on an annual basis to assess the effectiveness of the program and to evaluate new program needs. The Department of Fish and Game would like to thank the USFWS and especially Bristol-Myers Squibb for their stewardship and commitment to protecting the natural resources of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Blanding's Turtle is currently listed as a threatened species by the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program. They are particularly vulnerable because they travel very long distances during their active season, do not reproduce until late in life (14-20 yrs), and have low nest and juvenile survivorship. These traits make them extremely sensitive to even a 1-2% increase in adult mortality. Roads are the primary cause of adult mortality. Blanding’s Turtles travel to multiple wetlands throughout a single year (typically 3-6) and adult females travel to nesting habitats, crossing roads in the process.