Illinois researchers working to save ornate box turtles

FRANKLIN GROVE, Ill. (AP) — A team of Illinois researchers is using dogs to track down a threatened species of turtle. Ornate box turtles once lived in half of Illinois’ 102 counties.

Researchers believe they’re now in less than 10. One known home is in Lee County. A team from the Chicago Zoological Society and the University of Illinois spent Friday surveying the 3,800-acre Nachusa Grasslands.

The group paced through the grasses trying to spot the small turtles, aided by Boykin spaniels that can sniff out the turtles’ trail. Dr. Matt Allender with the Chicago Zoological Society says the turtles’ health reflects what’s happening in their environment.