Have you found
A Nesting Mom or Turtle Nest?
Helping Nesting Moms
The first rule of helping a mother turtle is to stay back- not to spook her! About two car lengths away will make her feel safe enough to nest, otherwise if she gets spooked she will not finish nesting and may have to leave only to return yet again.
It can take up to two hours for a turtle to complete nesting. The Turtle Guardians program have Nest Sitter Volunteers that we dispatch to help keep mom safe, especially because many freshwater turtles nest on roadsides for the soils and sun that they provide. If you cannot stand guard and stay with the nesting mother, text us at 705-854-2888
How to Protect the Nest
It is always best for the hatchlings if they are born on site/in situ. Nests are typically predated within 24 hours, so until you cage the nest, you can put a laundry basket on it with weighted rocks to keep it in place. Otherwise a BBQ grill will work as well!
Here is how to build a nest protector and install it. There are many designs to choose from; this is just one idea. Make sure the protector is about 3ft by 3ft and that the rain and sun can penetrate the soil. Also, it is important to always have exit holes for the hatchlings to escape in case the cage is not removed on time. Exit holes should be about 2 inches wide and 2 inches high.
Never dig the nest to check on the hatchlings; you will be interfering with the seal of the nest and this may change the success of the nest, and it is illegal.
Snapping turtles typically emerge in August to late September. If you have caged a Blanding's turtle or Painted turtle nest, these guys often hatch at similar times, but they overwinter in the nest. At both nesting time and hatch-out time, turtles are susceptible to predation. For snapping turtles, if you have caged a nest (with exit holes), do not remove the nest cage once the turtles start to emerge. Racoons and other predators will readily find these little ones easy targets for consuming. Instead, monitor the nest daily to help the little ones that have emerged to water. It can take days for all the hatchlings to be ready. Also never excavate or "help" hatchlings come out of the nest. It takes a few days for hatchlings at the bottom of the nest to be ready like their siblings that are emerging at this time. They are busy soaking up yolk sacks, and early "intervention" can actually harm the little ones. Also the cavity of the nest is the ideal shape and size for turtles to effectively climb out of the nest. For painted or Blading's turtle hatchlings, you can remove the cage before snowfall if the location is inconvenient to snow clearing; otherwise follow the same protocol as above in the spring should you see the little ones emerge.
To the Water
You can carry the little hatchlings to the nearest aquatic habitat (within 1 km). You can assist their success also by putting them within a weedy bay and about 10feet apart from one another so that they are not obvious and easy prey for birds or fish. They will naturally start to burrow or eat insects at the shore.
Do not relocate the hatchlings to a new site or take them in to feed them. These activities are illegal and also may reduce the survival success of the hatchlings.