SAGINAW COUNTY (WJRT) (5/14/2019) - Consumers Energy is preparing to release 12 Blanding's turtles back into the wild Thursday a year after they were captured during a construction project.
Two adult Blanding's turtles were located along the path of Consumers' Saginaw Trail Pipeline in Saginaw County's rural James Township last year. They are listed as a species of concern and protected by a Michigan Department of Natural Resources order.
The utility's staff herpetologist cared for them over the winter.
The females laid 12 eggs, which Consumers staff incubated, hatched and raised into juvenile turtles. They are now large enough to survive along in the wild.
Blanding's turtles can live more than 80 years and are able to reproduce when they reach 20 years of age. Baby turtles have a high mortality rate from predators, including raccoons.
Consumers Energy created a special habitat where the 12 turtles will be released to give them a better chance of survival. They live in swamp shrubs and open water areas with logs or stumps to sun themselves.
Some trees cut down to make way for the Consumers Energy natural gas pipeline were strategically placed to create an area for the turtles to bask in the sun while hiding some predators.