Nature Canada

Turtle tunnels to the future

Image of Tim O'Connor, Guest Blogger

Tim O’Connor, Guest Blogger

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!

Email Signup

Want more nature news?

Discover more about the nature you love.


Want to Help?

Canada’s wilderness is the world’s envy. It’s our duty to keep our true north strong and green.