Wild Turtle Week is a collaborative initiative between the Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC), the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA), and the Service to shell-e-brate all things related to turtles for one week, starting on World Turtle Day, May 23. 

Turtles have been roaming the earth since the days of the dinosaurs – some fossils date back more than 220 million years. They hold cultural significance for many societies, and play important roles in the environment. Some plant species depend upon turtles for habitat and to disperse their seeds! 

A bog turtle hatching next to a penny for size comparison.

The U.S. is a global hotspot for turtle biodiversity. We are home to more than 60 known turtle species, many that are found only here. But our turtles face growing threats from habitat loss, climate change climate change
Climate change includes both global warming driven by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. Though there have been previous periods of climatic change, since the mid-20th century humans have had an unprecedented impact on Earth's climate system and caused change on a global scale.

Learn more about climate change
, disease, and vehicles when crossing roads. The illegal collection of wild turtles is making matters worse. 

Turtles can’t afford these losses. It takes many species a decade or more to reach reproductive age, if they make it at all. Most eggs and hatchlings are eaten by predators. Those that do make it must reproduce for their entire lives just to ensure they replace themselves in the population.  

When we lose individual turtles from the wild, we lose future generations of turtles.  

Every turtle counts. That’s why the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with partners to support turtle conservation around the country. There are ways you can help too, including by reporting wildlife crime.

If you suspect someone is illegally collecting or selling wild turtles:

Contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by phone (1–844-FWS-TIPS) or email (fws_tips@fws.gov), or contact your state wildlife agency. 

Read about the work the Service and partners are doing to respond to threats turtles face by restoring habitat, giving young turtles a head start, combatting wildlife trafficking, and more. 

Content related to turtle conservation