Eversource Energy training workers to protect turtles

Educational event being held in Agawam Friday

Image Courtesy: Eversource Energy

AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – You may not have known it, but turtles are particularly fond of the areas around power lines as places to live and breed. Because they are drawn to utility rights-of-way, it is important that people who work for power companies know how to keep turtles safe.

That is the goal of Eversource Energy’s “Turtle-palooza” event, which they are holding in Agawam Friday. Eversource is working with the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife’s Endangered Species and Natural Heritage program to track turtles living near their rights-of-way. A specially-trained turtle-sniffing dog is even being used in the effort!

Eversource environmental engineer Matthew Waldirp told 22News, “There are certain best management practices we follow during construction like doing turtle sweeps, certain procedures when using equipment to avoid direct harm to the species.”

The goal is to help lineworkers and contractors recognize and protect the turtles they may encounter on the job.

Brian Butner of Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife told 22News, “The regulations are fines and jail time, I don’t believe anyone’s been imprisoned for violation of the Mass Endangered Species Act. It’s in the books.”

According to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, June is prime nesting season for turtles, so you are more likely to encounter them out on the roads at this time of year. You are reminded not to take turtles that you encounter home with you, or try to move them to a location you think to be more suitable. If you do want to “help” the turtle cross the road, just move it to the other side of the roadway in the direction in which it was headed.

Fish and wildlife biologist David Paulson told 22News, “You’ll probably see a painted turtle or snapping turtle in your yard. That’s a pretty cool thing to see, the best thing you can do is leave it alone, watch it, enjoy it.”

Painted turtles, Eastern Box turtles, and Wood turtles are most fond of living along utility company rights-of-way.