A rare turtle has been identified in Cerro Gordo County for the first time. Wood turtles have been found in Iowa, but never in that north-central Iowa county — until this summer. Todd VonEhwegen, a naturalist at the Lime Creek Nature Center, says a Mason City man thought he’d seen a wood turtle when he was out running last year. When Curt Krieger spotted a similar looking turtle this year, he decided to get positive identification. He picked it up, ran home and took some pictures. Those pictures were used to identify it as a wood turtle. VonEhwegen says this is a big find because the wood turtle’s endangered in Iowa, but has never been confirmed in Cerro Gordo County. He says the turtle’s known to live along the Cedar River in northeastern Iowa, so whether this is just one that “wandered off” or there’s a population of them along the Winnebago River, herpetologists are interested, especially if they find another one. VonEhwegen says a number of different things have put wood turtles on the endangered species list over the years. Their habitat need is fairly unique, a wooded area near a stream — the kind of habitat that’s largely been lost. VonEhwegen says another problem is “they’re a very pretty turtle,” and docile, so many people liked to keep them as pets but that contributed to their demise. The wood turtle is usually found in shady forests with a stream nearby.
You are here: / / Runner discovers endangered wood turtle