New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy will make thousands of school children happy next week when he signs legislation that names the bog turtle as the official state reptile.
Students in Princeton and many other areas of the state have been working for more than two years lobbying for the legislation. The biggest champions of the bill have been Riverside Elementary School teacher Mark Eastburn and his students, who have attended hearings at the State House in Trenton about the legislation.
Bills passed unanimously in both the New Jersey Senate and the Assembly earlier this year that would make the little turtle the official reptile of the Garden State. Students have been waiting eagerly for the governor to take action in the bill. A majority of states have a state reptile.
The bog turtle, one of the smallest and rarest turtles in North America, is endangered in New Jersey. Previously, the reptile could be found in all but three counties statewide. The U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection have partnered with land owners to preserve bog turtle habitats, recognizing the critical need to protect the turtle from extinction.