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While we have all heard about the various state animals within the US, it can actually get way more specific than just one animal. Many states have a variety of animal mascots, from state amphibians, state birds and state fish to state mammals and even state crustaceans.

Many US states choose to make endangered or threatened species their state animals in order to provide them with protection and spread awareness about the need for preservation efforts.

The Press of Atlantic City reports that on June 18, 2018, Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation that makes the bog turtle—one of the rarest turtles in North America—the state reptile of New Jersey.

The campaign to make the bog turtle the state reptile for New Jersey began two years ago with a group of students and their teacher at Riverside Elementary School in Princeton, New Jersey. The students learned about the plight of the bog turtle and how the degradation of their habitats was causing a steep decline in their populations, and decided they wanted to do something to help.

As The Press of Atlantic City explains, “The Department of Environmental Protection’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program estimates there are fewer than 2,000 of the small turtles left in the state, mainly because they are sensitive to changes in their habitat and development has made it difficult for them to survive in most places.”

At the signing of the legislation, not only were the students present and allowed to read their prepared speeches, but they also had a bog turtle ambassador present. All are hopeful that institutionalization of the bog turtle as the state reptile will help conservation efforts and brighten the future for the pint-sized turtle.

Image: Governor Phil Murphy/Facebook

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