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Arkansas Game and Fish says picking up turtles does more harm than good

Arkansas Game and Fish asks that you refrain from picking up turtles unless you're ready to commit to the pet.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — With temperatures heating up, you've probably seen quite a few turtles out and about, but Arkansas Game and Fish is asking you to not pick them up.

Why did the turtle cross the road? To get to the other side. So, don’t pick it up.

Spokesperson for Arkansas Game and Fish, Trey Reid, said turtles can be seen inching across the road in the country and in the city during the summer.

“If a box turtle is moved a significant distance, it will not establish a new home range and will essentially wander aimlessly. Box turtles home range is roughly a mile,” he said.

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He said if you move a box turtle away from its environment, or take it home, it's likely to die.

The next time you see a turtle trying to cross the road and you want to help it along, pick it up and place it in the grass, but do not try to take it home and make it a pet.

You also need to make sure you place the turtle in the direction it was going. If not, it will just try to cross the road again.

“Once you take it in as a pet, you're stuck with that animal forever because if you release that turtle, you're violating our state wildlife laws. It's illegal to introduce an animal into the wild once you've kept it as a pet,” he said.

If you still decide you want to commit to taking on a pet turtle and need advice, ask your local pet store, not Arkansas Game and Fish.

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“We typically do get calls from people that do take these in as pets and they want to know the proper way to care for it. We really aren't in the domestic pet care business, we're concerned about the wild animals of Arkansas, so don't call us if you want to learn how to take care of your turtle,” he said.

Arkansas Game and Fish also said when you release a turtle back into the wild after having it as a pet, it's used to getting fed and not hunting for its own food, so that's another reason to just let it be.