UNDATED (KMHL) – Look out for the turtles!

That’s the message the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wants drivers in southwest Minnesota to pay attention to.

The organization says turtles are crossing roads and highways to nest this time of year – so the DNR is asking motorists to watch for turtles and help them safely cross the highway whenever possible.

“It’s so important not to run them over,” said the DNR’s Lori Naumann. “No matter how big they are or how small they are, and not to move them from their habitat. When you move animals far away from where they’re found, that could affect the entire population.”

Every year about this time, the female turtles move from lakes, ponds, rivers and wetlands to nesting areas looking for a location to lay their eggs. Many times that search takes the turtles across roads and highways – leaving them susceptible to getting hit and killed by passing cars.

If a passing by motorist wants to assist the turtles – the DNR offers a few tips:

-Don’t put yourself or others in danger. Simply pulling off the road and turning on your hazard lights may alert other drivers to slow down.

-Avoid Excessive Handling. While wanting to inspect turtles closely is understandable, excessive handling can disrupt normal behavior.

-Allow Unassisted Road Crossings. When turtles can safely cross roads unaided due to a lack of oncoming traffic allow them to do so.

-Handle Turtles Gently – if necessary to pick them up, all turtles except Snappers and Softshells (which may bite) should be grasped gently along the shell edge near the mid-point of the body.

-Maintain Direction of Travel. Always move turtles in the same direction they were traveling in when encountered.

-Document your find!