Keeping our turtles safe

May 30, 2013   ·   0 Comments

I do a lot of wildlife surveys and deal with a lot of different issues. As winter has finally come to an end. Spring is slowly coming out, and with it, migrating & nesting birds, frogs singing their hearts out in celebration of life. And turtles. Turtles are coming out of their hibernacula’s in search of a mate and to lay their precious eggs. Here in Ontario we have 8 species of turtles. However out of 8, 7 are listed under the species at risk act.( But why? I see lots of turtles your thinking. )  But most of the turtles you see are nice little males basking on a log. It is generally the females that get hit by cars while trying to cross the roads looking for a mate, and a place to lay their eggs. They are now on the move. I moved one the other day that was probably around 30 years old. Toronto Zoo has an excellent program you can join. or phone 416-392-5999 to register.

You will get a kit to help you to learn and identify turtles and also frogs if you like. Become a citizen scientist. Any age level, any experience level can do it. Watch for turtles, report them, and help then across the road to safety. Of course your safety is # one. Never forget that. We can all help. Always try to wear gloves to move a turtle and always take it in the direction it is heading. Very important. I keep a turtle rescue kit in my car at all times now.

• Tupperware container with lid with holes or a towel

• Hand sanitizer

• Work gloves

• Small shovel if you get a snapping turtle

• Car matt also works for big snappers, important to keep hands back from head area.

• Small book to write all information on what it was doing and location.

You will learn as you. If you get an injured turtle call the Karwartha Turtle Trauma Center in Peterborough 705 741-5000.

They will direct you on what to do next. We now have 7 volunteer veterinarians in Ontario triaging turtles for safe transport to the hospital. I had one in 2011. She spent 11 months in hospital and I brought her back and released her last year to a healthy wetland. It is an amazing feeling. They are incredible little beings that can with stand a lot. And can often be helped and continue to lay their eggs in hospital or if dead, eggs can be extracted and often successfully hatch. Scales Nature Park in Orillia off highway 11 con 15. Will be opening a turtle hospital for our area. Much needed as Karwartha is full to their capacity pretty quickly. They will continue to work together. I am not sure on that date as yet. But we are all anxiously awaiting the day when those doors open. This year already our local veterinarian has sent 2 threatened Blanding turtles to the hospital that I know of. Both from up north. And one arrived via airplane last week. A pilot volunteered his time and flew an injured snapping turtle 400km to get her to hospital. A beautiful very large old snapper. And because of his kindness the turtle will recover, however will take time. Her facial injuries were bad. But what a story. The season has begun. Please watch out for our turtles crossing the roads near wet areas. Painted turtles need to be at least 12 -15 years old before they can even breed. Snappers 20. That is a lifetime already trying to survive before they can lay eggs. And out of the hundreds they lay. Maybe only a few will survive. Watch, help and report. And help others to learn as well. We can make a difference.

By Jen Howard





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