12 rare and vulnerable Blanding's Turtles were released last week in Michigan into a habitat prepared just for them.

Last year, Consumers Energy found turtle eggs, two adults and a juvenile Blanding's Turtle near their Saginaw Trail Pipeline. All were rescued. The adults later laid 12 eggs that were incubated, hatched and raised over the winter. The young turtles were released near Saginaw last week.

The 12 turtles were named: Shelldon, Bubby, MiShell, Restoration, Roscoe, Myrtle, Tina (Turtle), Tommy, Crush, Thor, Taco and Darkhorse.

The Michigan DNR considers the Blanding's Turtle a species of "special concern" which is currently being considered for federal protection.

Blanding's Turtles have a lifespan of over 80 years, but they do not reach sexual maturity until around 20. Predators, especially raccoons, are a threat to young turtles. It can take one female decades to produce enough turtles to help keep the turtle population healthy against predators.

Consumers Energy returned the turtles to the area near where the females were found. Felled trees that had been removed for the pipeline were placed in the area to help the turtle's habitat.

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