Officials are urging drivers to give turtles a brake this spring on Missouri roads.

The Missouri Department of Conservation says vehicles kill thousands of box turtles each year. And spring is a particularly treacherous time for box turtles and other common varieties because they are more active.

Conservation agents say the turtles come out of their burrows and start hunting for food and mates during warm, wet conditions. Males sometimes travel as far as 6 miles (about 10 kilometers) searching for territories and mates. Females also cross roads in search of places to nest.

Conservation officials say most Missouri turtles can live up to 30 years, but the common box turtle can live to 80 and occasionally survives more than a century.

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