As more people leave their homes and return to roads, the turtles of New England need our help.

With nesting season in full swing, writer and naturalist Sy Montgomery called in to Boston Public Radio Wednesday with some advice for what to do if you stumble upon a turtle in the middle of the road.

"There’s a great likelihood you’re gonna spot them right now,” she said. "This is the season that they are leaving the ponds and the forests and going to dig a nest, so it’s essential that they get to where they’re going.”

The first rule of thumb in helping turtles, Montgomery said, is to make sure you're helping them get where they're already headed.

"If you were driving to work and somebody picked you up and took you home, you would just leave your house and go back to work! You’re not doing the turtle any good if you don’t let it go in the direction that it’s going,” she said.

The next step is actually getting them to move. If you’re unable to wait and supervise, Montgomery recommended using a piece of cardboard or a floor mat from your car to drag the turtle out of harm’s way.

"Don’t pick them up by the tail, that’s really bad for them– it can break their spine,” she said. "But probably the safest thing you can do, if you want to get it across if you aren’t able to actually escort… if you have a box in your car, a cardboard box, break it down, get the turtle to walk onto the box, and then drag the piece of cardboard backwards to the direction the turtle is going. Turn him around, so that he’s still going in the right direction, and let him walk off. And you never have to touch him.”

New England is home to a number of snapping turtles, and it’s not unusual to worry about getting nipped. However, Montgomery said the species is mostly misunderstood.

“People are deftly afraid of snapping turtles,” she said. "Snapping turtles, however, are generally real sweethearts, and the bigger ones are actually less likely to bite."

If you come across an injured turtle, Montgomery said to reach out to the Turtle Rescue League.

Montgomery is a naturalist, author, and BPR contributor. Her latest book is "The Magnificent Migration: On Safari with Africa's Last Great Herds."