Terrapin Habitat Improvement Program (HIP)
Last year was a terrible road kill year for Eastham’s diamondback terrapins, particularly near the bridge on Bridge Road and a section of Herring Brook Road. The basic problem was the proximity of these roads to the salt marshes and a lack of safe nesting habitat. The turtles would crawl up to the road looking to nest and unfortunately they’d be hit. Something more had to be done.
In September 2018 Eastham Conservation Foundation (ECF) submitted a Terrapin Habitat Improvement Program (HIP) to Eastham’s Conservation Commission and to MassWildlife’s Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program. In May 2019 the program was approved and, with the help of AmeriCorps workers, local turtle expert Bill Allan quickly installed fencing and created “turtle gardens”—3 near the bridge and 4 at the Herringbrook Road site. New turtle crossing signage from the state was installed by DPW on Bridge and Herring Brook Roads.
With the nesting season now over we can report that the HIP was a great success. The combination of fencing and new nesting habitat prevented terrapins from entering the roads resulting in NO road kills vs. 9 last year in the protected places. In the new turtle gardens there are six nests.
As of August 20th, we have found 250 nests in total, an all-time record. There were 2 road kills versus 11 in 2018.