Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Massachusetts
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Massachusetts Project

Implementation of the bog turtle conservation plan for the northern population

January 2021 - June 2023


Participating Agencies

  • Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
  • Norcross Wildlife
  • The Nature Conservancy

The Northern Population of Bog Turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii) was federally listed in 1997 due primarily to habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation (USFWS 2001). Bog Turtle populations are still vulnerable to decline and further imperilment. Further, the Bog Turtle is listed as “Endangered” under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA) and its implementing regulations. The Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP) of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) has partnered with six other state wildlife agencies (Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut) on a Competitive State Wildlife Grant (CSWG) to implement a regional Conservation Plan (Erb 2019) that was also developed with CSWG funds. At present, there are only two known occupied Bog Turtle sites in Massachusetts (Sites A and B). At least two additional sites are believed to be historic localities for Bog Turtles in Massachusetts. Incidental observations, available habitat, and regional patterns in adjacent New York and Connecticut indicate that there are likely areas of Bog Turtle occurrence in Massachusetts that are not currently known. This project is intended to support regional conservation planning efforts in coordination with adjacent and northeastern states, to document the spatial ecology of known populations, and to more fully document the distribution of the species in Massachusetts.

Our primary objective as a seven-state collaborative funded through CSWG is to protect and maintain the Northern Population of Bog Turtle and its habitat through implementation of high priority conservation actions identified in a 2001 recovery plan, the individual state Wildlife Action Plans, and a recently developed (funded via a prior Competitive State Wildlife Grant #F16AP00001) Bog Turtle Conservation Plan for the Northern Population (Erb 2001). Specifically in Massachusetts, our primary objectives are to document the distributional extent of the species in the Commonwealth, identify areas of potential habitat for restoration and/or surveys, to conduct habitat management, and to monitor the effects of habitat management while contributing data and information to the USFWS, the regional conservation planning effort, and the state’s endangered species program.

Theses and Dissertations Publication Date
Vineyard, J.A. 2023. Bog turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii) population dynamics and response to habitat management in Massachusetts. MS Thesis, Department of Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts Amherst. September 2023