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Turtle Recovery Action Sees Growth in Ontario
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Turtle Recovery Action Sees Growth in Ontario

[caption id="attachment_34683" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Anuja Kapoor Anuja Kapoor, Guest Blogger[/caption] This blog is written by guest blogger Anuja Kapoor. Slow and steady wins the race…at least where turtles are concerned. A turtle crisis was declared in Ontario this summer after an alarming number of injured turtles were admitted to the Ontario Turtle Conservation Center for rehabilitation. Officials at the trauma facility reported operating beyond their carrying capacity with close to 800 turtles in recovery. While predation poses a threat, turtles remain especially vulnerable to road mortality, habitat destruction and illegal poaching in Ontario. Many of the province’s turtles are also long-lived (taking up to 20 years to reach maturity), the death of even one adult can significantly affect species survival. Seven out of the eight native turtle species in Ontario are at risk. Three of these currently classified as endangered on the Species at Risk in Ontario list: the Spotted Turtle, Wood Turtle and Spiny Softshell. [caption id="attachment_34684" align="alignright" width="361"]Image of a Spiny Softshell Turtle Spiny Softshell Turtles have a flat and soft, olive to brown shell, a very long neck and pig-like snout. They were enlisted endangered in December 2016.[/caption] But it’s not all bad news. This year marked a major victory for conservationists after a legislation was passed to put an end to the Snapping Turtle Hunt – out-dated and unsustainable practice that once allowed Ontarians to legally kill two snappers each day. This was achieved through the collaborative effort of scientists and policy advisors, sending a clear message to the public about protecting our at-risk species. Conservation organizations across Ontario have also brought together citizens and science to make a difference. Community outreach and education has been crucial for this development and often engages all-ages, from students in kindergarten to those studying university biology and veterinary sciences. Meanwhile, research continues to better understand the dynamics of certain species such as painted turtles in Algonquin Provincial Park. Ontario Nature and David Suzuki Foundation have also introduced similar field projects to evaluate viable conservation strategies and track the behaviour, growth and survival of our turtle species. Let’s take a moment to shell-abrate the good work of our conservationists and community members!

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Turtle tunnels to the future
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Turtle tunnels to the future

[caption id="attachment_31723" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Tim O'Connor, Guest Blogger Tim O'Connor, Guest Blogger[/caption] This blog is written by guest blogger Tim O'Connor. How did the turtle cross the road?  The answer, unfortunately, is very slowly and dangerously due to the speed of passing vehicles with distracted drivers. The turtle species that occur in Ontario have existed relatively unchanged for 40 million years! Of the eight species of turtles currently in Ontario, seven are at riskThey need our help if we are to continue to co-habitat with these silent neighbours.  A new approach to assisting turtles has emerged over recent years, Turtle Tunnels.  On a recent trip to the amazing Presqu'ile Provincial Park on the north shore of Lake Ontario we drove over a white grate in the road that immediately captured my attention as I’d never see a culvert with holes flush on top with the pavement. After a brief conversation with a park warden, I understood what these ingenious tunnels, coupled with surrounding geo cloth on the sides of the road, achieved.  The cloth barrier guides the turtles to a safe, well-lit passage from one swamp to the other between the intersecting roads. See an example of these tunnels here.Image of a Snapping Turtle

How can YOU assist our long-standing neighbours?  Here are three effective ways:

  1. Write your local municipal or provincial politician and tell them where you’d like to see the next turtle tunnel installed with your taxpayer dollar. If they tell you it’s not in the budget then tell them not to build more infrastructure until proper funding is available for environmental concerns!  It’s a priority that we build infrastructure that assists turtles for future generations to enjoy.
  2. Report sightings of species at risk to the Ministry of Natural Resources. Click here to report any sightings of rare species in Ontario.
  3. Finally, if you’re driving down the road and see a turtle starting to cross a road then safely stop and assist by moving it to a safer location. However, if it’s using the gravel to lay eggs then best to leave it be.  Also, use plenty of caution with snapping turtles if you value all your digits.
Remember that the pen is mightier than the sword and if we want to create change then take a little time and effort, so that the next time someone asks you how the turtle crossed the road, we can all say safely and alive.

You can learn about one of the species in Ontario at risk, the Blanding's Turtle, here with our species spotlight profile!

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7 ways to help infographic
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7 ways to help infographic

Tweet and share this infographic with your neighbours in the NatureHood   Be a good neighbour in the NatureHood - 7 Ways to Help Species At Risk

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