Why did the turtle cross the road? Urban Turtle Festival at Eagle Marsh celebrates reptiles

Judy Donahue won the adult division of the costume contest at Saturday's Urban Turtle Festival at Eagle Marsh for her turtle hat. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
Zoe Buffenbarger, 1½, puts on a turtle mask for her grandfather Mike Buffenbarger during Saturday's Urban Turtle Festival at Eagle Marsh. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
Volunteer Bill Oliver buries "turtle eggs" at Saturday's Urban Turtle Festival at Eagle Marsh. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
A boy dips for creatures in the water at Saturday's Urban Turtle Festival at Eagle Marsh. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
A "turtle" waves to guests at Saturday's Urban Turtle Festival at Eagle Marsh. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
Bruce Kingsbury, professor of biology and director of the Environmental Resources Center at Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne, takes photos of the release of a snapping turtle at Saturday's Urban Turtle Festival at Eagle Marsh for her turtle hat. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
Children take a look at a snapping turtle at Saturday's Urban Turtle Festival at Eagle Marsh. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
A snapping turtle makes its way into the water during Saturday's Urban Turtle Festival at Eagle Marsh. (Photo courtesy of Bruce Kingsbury)

If you’ve ever taken home a box turtle you found in the wild, you’ve committed a crime.

Jessica Merkling, urban wildlife biologist for the north region of Indiana Department of Natural Resources, gave guests at Saturday’s Urban Turtle Festival a lesson on the shelled reptiles. The Little Rivers Wetlands Project event included free T-shirts, a 5k walk, a look at live turtles, costume contest, crafts and games at the 756-acre marsh, 6801 Engle Road. Bruce Kingsbury and Mark Jordan answered children’s questions about a snapping turtle the two IPFW biologists released back into the wetland’s waters.

The DNR doesn’t recommend keeping turtles as pets, Merkling said. Some can live to be 50 years old, and they require an ultraviolet light. Some have special food and tank needs.

Ways to help turtles:

*If you find one trying to cross a road, move it across the road in the direction it was facing.

*Never pick up a turtle by its tail. Grasp it with both hands at the back of its shell, but watch out in case it tries to bite or claw you.

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