Governor Phil Murphy Designates Bog Turtle As State Reptile

Photo courtesy Governor Murphy's Office

TRENTON – New Jersey has a newly named state reptile.

Governor Phil Murphy on Monday named the bog turtle state reptile at Riverside Elementary School.

Two years ago, the school’s science teacher Mark Eastburn told his students the state did not have a state reptile. His students advocated for the endangered bog turtle to become the state reptile. Eastburn’s students hope the designation will raise awareness about the turtle’s habitat that will help the species thrive.

Murphy was joined at the school with Senator Kip Bateman and Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, and signed into law their bill making the turtle the state reptile.

“We have been told that there are very few bills in the New Jersey Legislature that could ever pass a unanimous vote and we are very grateful that Democrats and Republicans can come together and support this effort,” fifth-grader Jeremy Wachtell said.

Photo courtesy Governor Murphy’s Office

The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife said the palm-sized, elusive turtles, while once abundant throughout the state, now mainly reside in the remaining rural areas in Sussex, Warren, Hunterdon, and Salem counties.

The state has spearheaded conservation efforts for years, working with private landowners to ensure turtle populations are safe and seeking to conserve land where turtles are known to live, among other efforts.

“I commend New Jersey’s young students, teachers and scientists for working hard to protect our critically endangered bog turtles and our environment,” Murphy said. “I could not be more excited to sign a bill officially making the bog turtle New Jersey’s state reptile. This bill shows that when we work together, we can accomplish some pretty great things.”

“It shows that you can work together – Republicans and Democrats and bog turtles are not partisan – they are bipartisan…Doing what we’re doing here today is really because of your actions and your teacher’s actions. The teachers here are going to be able to save a very valuable resource so you should be really proud of yourself,” Bateman said.