Help Sponsor Turtle Research at Wildwood Park

Your donation of $20 will make it possible for a numbered microchip PIT (Passive Integrated Transponder) tag to be safely implanted into a turtle from Wildwood Park. By recapturing turtles in the future, we can study their growth and development. All turtles are released back into Wildwood Lake.

With the support of the Friends of Wildwood, Environmental Educators at Wildwood Park are partnering with the Biology Department at Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA for this research.

As a donor you will receive a certificate, a PIT tag registration number and your turtle's species. Friends of Wildwood is a 501c3 organization.

If your turtle is recaptured for study and measurement, you will be able to locate your PIT tag number on the Friends of Wildwood website. Download recapture data.

*Permit Number 358 Type 1, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission

Yes, I want to support this research project!

Adopt a Turtle Now Online »

Download the PDF adoption form »

Has Your Adopted Turtle Been Recaptured?

So far, over 200 turtles have been captured and tagged with a PIT tag and released in Wildwood Lake. To see if the turtle you adopted has been recaptured, download recapture data.

Turtle Research at Wildwood Park

One of the highlights of a walk along Wildwood Park's Towpath Trail is seeing turtles sunning on logs in the canal. In the history of Wildwood, there has been no record of a scientific estimate of the turtle population.

In 2011, several organizations began to collaborate on turtle research at the park.

Three scientists spearhead the project:

Professor Gene Wingert, Dickinson College, also a Friends of Wildwood Board Member

Dr. Scott Boback, Dickinson College

Dr. Walter Meshaka, Senior Curator of Zoology at the PA State Museum and Friends of Wildwood Board Member.

How Turtles Are Caught and Tagged

Dickinson College set turtle nets in Wildwood�s canal.

For several weeks in spring and fall, professors bring students to Wildwood to teach them to bait and set traps. Each trap has 3 rings the size of hula hoops that are connected with netting. One end is an open funnel so turtles can swim in, but not out. Although the turtles are aquatic, they breathe through lungs, so the nets are partly submerged, leaving space for them to come up for air.

The traps are checked daily. All turtles caught are measured and marked with notches in the shell. A PIT (Passive Integrated Transponder) tag is inserted into the turtle. Each tag has a unique number, like a social security number, that can be read with an electronic wand.

All turtles are released back into the canal.

Inserting a PIT tag    |    Reading a PIT tag    |    Measuring the carapace

Data collected are used to monitor the growth of individual turtles.

By comparing the number of re-captures to new captures, the researchers can calculate an estimate of the turtle population at Wildwood Park.

Turtle Species at Wildwood Park

Most of the turtles captured in the research project are Eastern Painted Turtles.

They can often be seen sunning on logs in the canal.

Snapping Turtles can be challenging to handle when caught.

They live in the lake and the canal. Females come out of the water to lay eggs in May.

Some Stinkpots were caught the first year of the study.

These aquatic turtles aren�t often seen.

Box Turtles are mainly terrestrial. They live in the forested areas surrounding the smaller creeks.

Wood Turtles are found in streams and in the forests surrounding them.

Red-eared Sliders are not native to Pennsylvania, but many are found in Wildwood Park. When purchased at a pet store, they are a little larger than a quarter, but they grow rapidly.

Thinking they are doing the right thing, people release their overgrown pets into the wild. Red-eared Sliders are more aggressive than some of the native turtles and they reproduce rapidly in the wild. The result is that native turtles are crowded out of the habitat they need to survive.

Spread the word � Never release pet turtles into the wild.
Never take a wild turtle as a pet.

Educational Benefits of the Study

   Student research

In addition to being an important research study, the turtle project provides educational opportunities for many people. College students are involved in the research. Summer Day Campers at Wildwood have an opportunity to assist with trapping, measuring, tagging and releasing turtles.

Adopt-A-Turtle at Wetlands Festival

Some turtles are detoured to a festival for a day before being released. At Wetlands Festival in April and Celebrate Wildwood in September, turtles are available for �adoption� to help support the research. Seeing the turtles is a festival highlight for many people who enjoy seeing and learning about animals.


You can support this research by �adopting� a turtle. For your $20 donation, you will receive a certificate with the PIT tag number of �your� turtle. Download adoption form.

To see if �your� turtle has been recaptured, download recapture data.