Study Underway to Determine Why Tiny Bog Turtles Are Getting Sick

Posted on May 11, 2011

Bog turtle in its Natural Habitat


The Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo veterinarians, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program have joined forces to determine why bog turtles are getting sick. The bog turtle is North America's smallest turtle. An adult bog turtle measures just 4.5 inches in length. The tiny turtle is federally listed as "Threatened," and is "Endangered" in New York State and Massachusetts.

Bog Turtle Being Mesaured


Wildlife managers working in a few known bog turtle habitats in the Northeast have reported higher than average mortality rates for the turtles in the past few years. The bog turtle team is currently locating wild turtles for health assessments to determine these baseline conditions and possibly identify a common cause to explain recent turtle mortality.

Dr. Bonnie Raphael, WCS's Department Head for Wildlife Medicine, says, "We're conducting a broad screening in order to identify a cause or causes for the increase in bog turtle deaths. This information will be used to help determine if these recent losses are attributable to infectious disease, environmental perturbations, or other factors."

Photos: Julie Larsen Maher/Wildlife Conservation Society