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The Eastern Box Turtle Conservation Trust (hereinafter referred to as the “EBTCT”) is devoted, first and foremost, to the vigorous continuation, in perpetuity, of the seminal Eastern Box Turtle repatriation project as initiated by founder, Dr. William R. Belzer (1943-2016) at the McKeever Environmental Learning Center in Sandy Lake, Mercer County, Pennsylvania.


The primary mission of the EBTCT is to enhance turtle conservation and native population recruitment and repatriation, in order to improve (through non-lethal and primarily field practices and studies) the declining prospects of turtle species, particularly the Eastern Box turtle (Terrapene carolina) in northwest Pennsylvania.

Our Mission

​Our Purpose

Habitat fragmentation, pet collection, and injury or disease from other human activities, are fueling the decline and disappearance of the Eastern box turtle (aka Terrapene carolina) in much of its native range. 


More than 120 nations signed an agreement in 1994 to add all Box Turtle (Terrapene) species to the appended protection provided by CITES (Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species). The international intent to conserve the species cannot be realized without basic, local, and domestic conservation efforts. 




                       Program Priorities
We aim to ensure in perpetuity the continuation of the Eastern Box Turtle repatriation studies that were initiated at the McKeever Learning Center’s (Sandy Lake, Pennsylvania) natural preserve. Income, and, when necessary, principal from the EBTCT will be used:
  • For the long term care and protective monitoring of repatriated homeless Eastern Box Turtles, of field study sites involved in these studies, to avoid turtle death during the early years of relocation;
  • For radio telemetry to enable regular monitoring that will ensure the safety and health of individual turtles;
  • For interventions to improve mating opportunities, nesting and feeding habitat, and nest, hatchling, and hibernaculum protection;
  • To assure that native turtles are not taken from other natural, viable habitats for any studies supported by the EBTCT fund.
For more information contact Sue Seibert, Director of the Eastern Box Turtle Trust at
              Our History

Field work in the late 1980’s by Robert P. Cook at the Floyd Bennet Field of Gateway National Recreation Area demonstrated that recovery of this species is very difficult. 

In an effort to further test, develop, and demonstrate repatriation strategies for this species, Dr. William Belzer initiated an interminable repatriation project at the McKeever Environmental Center at Sandy Lake, Pennsylvania, in 1993. 


By 1998, the seminal field work at the McKeever site revealed that 200 acres is too small a habitat. (Belzer, B. 1999. Home range establishment by translocated eastern box turtles. Box Turtle Research and Conservation Newsletter 8:3-7; 20-22.) 

Work then shifted in 1999 to a much larger, private, restricted-access, nature sanctuary. Access for extended field study at that site had begun, by 2008, to reveal important fundamental insights into the obstacles that challenge hope for slowing and reversing the decline of box turtle populations. (Belzer,W., & S. Seibert. 2007)


Recording the long term movement histories for translocated adult Eastern Box Turtles and their head-started juvenile offspring in northwestern Pennsylvania sanctuaries, has been a primary focus of the project.




The EBTCT Advisory Committee will be composed of not fewer than five (5) members. A vote must be taken by the committee for any additional members to be voted in. There are no restrictions on the upper limit of members. All members of the board are empowered to vote. A simple majority is required for a motion to pass. If there is ever a tied vote, the motion fails.


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