Piepgras, S., T. Sajwaj, M. Hamernick, and J.W. Lang. 1998. Blanding's turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) in the Brainerd/Baxter region: population status, distribution & management recommendations. Final report submitted to the Nongame Wildlife Program, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 89+ pp.
Understanding how Blanding's turtles utilize wetlands and uplands is crucial to protecting habitats critical to their conservation. The occurrence of Blanding's turtles in the Brainerd/Baxter area has been well established through the element occurrence records and from previous studies at Camp Ripley. During the course of this project, we captured and marked 60 Blanding's turtles (37 females, 12 males and 11 juveniles). None of the turtles were found in the immediate area of the bypass; and no monitored turtles moved in or out of the bypass area. We found four areas in the Brainerd/Baxter area where turtles appeared to be concentrated. Monitored turtles utilized an array of aquatic habitats including inland shallow fresh marshes (type 3), inland deep fresh marshes (type 4), inland open fresh water (type 5) and shrub swamps (type 6). These wetlands ranged in size from 1.5 ha to 111 ha. Although there was considerable diversity on wetland features, the majority of turtles spent 90% of their days in shrub swamps. We located a total of 11 nests during the 1998 field season. Reproductive females were found in upland habitats from 19 May to 18 June. Clutch sizes for the turtles ranged from 8 - 20 eggs with a mean clutch size of 15.8 (n = 11). On the basis of current survey, Blanding's turtles appear to be distributed throughout the Brainerd/Baxter townships. Recommendations have been developed to help ensure the future viability and preservation of Blanding's turtle populations in the Brainerd/Baxter area.