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Herping Around with the Blanding’s Turtle
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Herping Around with the Blanding’s Turtle

Ever wonder about unusual creatures? What’s it like to be cold-blooded? Or to breathe with your skin? Ever think about what it’s like to have scaly skin and no limbs? What about hoping versus walking? Or having a shell on your back? What’s the smartest species? The cutest? The strangest? Well, we wondered too; and thus, let’s go Herping Around in Canada and learn about snakes, lizards, toads, frogs, and turtles!

Today’s species is the Blanding’s Turtle!


[caption id="attachment_38567" align="alignleft" width="317"] © Joe Crowley[/caption] Is that an army helmet laying on the ground? NO! It’s a Blanding’s Turtle! The shell of a Blanding’s Turtle is medium-sized, dome-like and resembles that of an army helmet; which is unlike most other turtles that have a wide, flatter shell. It is easily identified by its bright yellow throat, chin and shell underbelly. Its shell has black to brown yellow flakes and streaks and can reach up to 27 cm long. Apart from its bright yellow throat, its head and limbs are black-grey. Unlike other Ontario turtles, the Blanding’s Turtle can completely close their shell after pulling in their head and feet, because the bottom of the shell is hinged. This is very useful when the Blanding's Turtle is in danger! The Blanding’s turtle lives in the Great Lakes Basin, with a few other populations in the United States and elsewhere in Canada. It is found in shallow water, usually in large wetlands and shallow lakes with lots of plants. If you see one a few hundred meters away from the water, do not panic, as they often venture to find a mate or nesting site! When in hibernation, they are in the mud at the bottom of permanent water bodies, from the Late October to end of April. What’s interesting, is that the female species do not mature until at least the age of 14, with individuals living to be over 75 years old! That’s old for something so small! The female will lay up to 22 eggs in late May or early June after excavating a nest in a sunny area with good drainage. Hatchlings three to four centimeters in length, emerge in the fall and the incubation temperature of the eggs determines the gender of the offspring! Blanding’s Turtles are omnivorous (feed on plants and animals), specifically on crayfish, insects, fish, frogs and a variety of plant material. Different from other aquatic turtles who feed exclusively in the water, Blanding’s Turtles feed both in the water and on land. Blanding’s Turtles are threatened primarily due to the destruction of wetlands, their home. Not only this, but shoreline development can destroy nesting areas and disturb the land beside the water. Since Blanding’s Turtles can wander from the water a few hundred meters, that creates a new threat if the turtle ends up on the road. The more that they wander on the road, the more likely they are to be crushed. This is especially harmful to the females who need to return to the nest. Shockingly, this is one of the species that people remove from the wild to use as food or as pets! But don't worry, you can help! If you see a Blanding’s Turtle, report the sighting! This will hopefully help the city create signage for drivers or pedestrians, so that everyone can be more careful around that area! Also, you can volunteer with your local nature club or provincial park in surveys focused on species at risk. And if you live on property near the habitat where Blanding’s Turtles can be found, you may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of the species and its habitat. As well, if you are interested in purchasing a turtle, never buy a native species of turtle, or any that have been caught in the wild. If you see a turtle for sale that came from the wild, REPORT immediately. If you are reporting illegal activity regarding plant or wildlife, call 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667). Lastly, share this so that your friends and family can learn about the danger that the Blanding’s Turtle is in, and how they too can help!

Saving a Blanding’s Turtle from Traffic
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Saving a Blanding’s Turtle from Traffic

[caption id="attachment_36273" align="alignleft" width="150"]Ted Cheskey, click for contact information Ted Cheskey, Naturalist Director.[/caption] This blog post was written by Ted Cheskey, Naturalist Director at Nature Canada. This past weekend, my wife and I travelled across central Ontario from Ottawa to Tobermory to spend the Victoria day weekend with family and good friends. We left our home around 2 pm. Nearly four hours later while Cris was driving between the little towns of Kinmount and Norland Ontario, on Regional Road 45, I spotted a turtle in the middle of the road. There was lots of traffic, folks headed up cottages for the long weekend. The turtle was large, dark, with a high shell – meaning Blanding’s Turtle, at Threatened species in Canada and Ontario. It wasn’t moving and looked to be injured, and extremely vulnerable to getting completely crushed. I asked Cris to pull off the road, which she did into a small laneway into the forest. The road was busy so this was tricky.  We drove back to just past the turtle and safely pulled off the road. Cars were narrowly missing it as it was literally in the very middle of the road. When I saw a large gap in traffic, I sprinted down the road, grabbed the turtle and took it to the shoulder, thinking that I would release it in a safer place. [caption id="attachment_36929" align="alignright" width="200"] Blanding's Turtle, photo by Beatrice Laporte.[/caption] However, I saw that the posterior part of the carapace (upper shell) was partially crushed, and there was a fair bit of blood, but the turtle was clearly alive though withdrawn into its shell.  I figured that it would die for certain from loss of blood, infection or injuries I could not see if I just released it, so I ran back to the car, and we made space in the back of the hatch, on a rubber mat, where we set it.  Cris used her smart phone to try and find out what to do. Eventually we talked with Graham, my son-in-law, who was in Tobermory awaiting us to solicit their help in figuring out what to do. We learned that there is a turtle hotline in Ontario – but by then it was around 7 pm on Friday, and all we could do was leave a message. We stopped in Orillia, purchased a small blue rectangular recycling bin, and put the turtle in it. It was still bleeding. We also purchased ice and put some in a plastic bag to cool down the turtle and hopefully slow the bleeding. We drove to Tobermory and occasionally heard the turtle moving. The turtle spent the night in the back of the car in the bin, but in the morning I opened the hatch to discover it had climbed out! Though it was still bleeding, that was a great sign that all of its legs were working well. In the meantime, the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre called back and arranged for us to drop the Turtle at a Veterinary hospital in Collingwood – about 2.5 hours away. Ironically we had driven past this place the day before about 8 pm. We then drove back to Collingwood, dropped the turtle off at the hospital to the dedicated staff where they stabilized it. The rest of the story is in the below video: https://youtu.be/6GRrdoYKBdE

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8 Things to do this Summer: As told by Canadian Turtles
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8 Things to do this Summer: As told by Canadian Turtles

[caption id="attachment_36590" align="alignleft" width="150"] Tina-Louise Rossit,
Guest Blogger.[/caption] This post was written by guest blogger Tina-Louise Rossit.

There are roughly 320 species of turtles around the globe and Canada is home to 8 species of freshwater turtles (and 4 species of marine turtles). That’s a fair amount considering that turtles are reptiles, hence cold-blooded, so you wouldn’t think that they would inhabit Canada’s naturally colder environments. Well they do! Turtles may hibernate for a chunk of they year, but come April/May to October, they are out and about, doing their favourite pasttimes. This here is a list of things to do this summer as told by turtles!

1. SNORKEL like Spiny Softshell Turtles! If there’s one odd-looking turtle, it’s got to be the Softshells. These are a group of turtles that have a flattened leathery carapace due to the lack scutes (turtle term for scales) and elongated nostrils into tubular cavities. They have an aquatic lifestyle and can be seen submerged under water with their snout out for air. [caption id="attachment_36930" align="alignright" width="171"] Painted Turtle, photo by Susanne Swayze.[/caption] 2. PICNIC like the Snapping Turtles! Now Snappers are definitely the foodies of the bunch. They are active omnivorous hunters so they aren’t picky eaters. Snapping turtles are quite large with robust carapaces. They have flexible necks and powerful jaws to snap-snap at food items. 3. SWIMMING like the Eastern Musk Turtles! These little guys love to spend time in slow moving creeks and ponds. If it’s got vegetation, all the better since then musk turtles can snack and swim! 4. SUN BASKING like the Painted Turtles! One of the most common species, they sure like the sun. They can be seen in groups lined up on logs soaking up some rays on beautiful sunny days. This also makes for a great photo opportunity from afar! 5. NATURE WALK like the Blanding’s Turtles! Probably the secret to their longevity since these turtles can live past 70 years old! They are known to wander from their nesting sites for good long walks of exploring and foraging. [caption id="attachment_36929" align="alignright" width="168"] Blanding's Turtle, photo by Beatrice Laporte.[/caption] 6. STOMPING like the Wood turtles! These turtles got their name from their shell’s appearance as they age. Unlike other species, they don’t shed their scutes so wear as it ages resembling wood. They also have an active hunting method; stomping the earth! This stimulates juicy worms beneath to come out and voila lunchtime! 7. HANG OUT WITH FRIENDS like the Spotted Turtles! These turtles are most social of the bunch. Females can be seen in groups for nesting sites, basking, and hibernating. 8. YOGA like the Map Turtles! You see, turtles know how to stretch! Map turtles can be seen with stretched out limbs and necks as they bask in the sun. And they can hold their position for long periods of time that can make any yoga master jealous!
Now, before you get all ready to turtle this summer, there are a couple of more things to keep in mind.

All 8 species of Canada’s freshwater turtles are in need of our help! It is getting harder to them to be turtles when their habitats are decreasing, their homes are being polluted, and more roads with fast cars are causing fatal injuries.

Next time you see a turtle crossing sign on the road, slow down and keep an eye out for a nature walker! If you need to move it for its safety, move it in the direction it was going in!

For more tips on how to help turtles - read our most recent blog post on saving turtles.


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Amherst Island Wind Project Decision should be overturned
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Amherst Island Wind Project Decision should be overturned

September 1, 2015 - Owls and eagles, swallows and bats will soon run a deadly gauntlet of wind turbines along eastern Lake Ontario if the Amherst Island, White Pines and Ostrander projects go ahead as proposed say Nature Canada, Ontario Nature, the Kingston Field Naturalists, and American Bird Conservancy. "Ontario’s decision last week to approve Windlectric’s 26-turbine project on Amherst Island—one of the province’s crown jewels of nature—is another in a string of ‘tough on nature’ decisions to build wind energy projects in Important Bird Areas in the region" said Stephen Hazell, Nature Canada’s Director of Conservation. "Given Ontario’s failure to consider the cumulative effects of these projects on nature, the Environmental Review Tribunal should overturn the approval of the Amherst Island Project as well as that of White Pines. And given the clear breaches of the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act, the federal government should in future apply its environmental assessment process to wind energy projects." “We fear that that the construction of 35 kilometres of roads on Amherst Island will destroy habitat for species at risk like the Blanding’s Turtle,” said Joshua Wise, Ontario Nature’s Greenway Program Manager. “Amherst has the largest breeding population of the at-risk Short-eared Owl in southern Ontario. During the winter, Amherst supports the largest concentration of owl species of anywhere in eastern North America as far as we know. . We are all for green energy, but not at the expense of nature.” “We cannot ignore this decision” said Michael Hutchins, Director of the American Bird Conservancy’s Bird-Smart Wind Energy Campaign. “The birds and bats that will be killed would be migrating to or from the United States and are a shared resource. They contribute millions of dollars of tourism revenue and ecological services to the U.S., Canada and other countries that may be their winter destinations. There is no regard in this decision for its international implications. We will take a very close look at the spectrum of tools that are available to oppose and overturn this very bad decision.” “The Kingston Field Naturalists (KFN) have been opposing the construction of an industrial wind facility on Amherst Island, in part because the number of birds killed per turbine on nearby Wolfe Island is one of the highest in North America. Ospreys, Red-tailed Hawks, Purple Martins and Wilson Snipe have experienced very high mortality rates. The KFN believe that there will be the same or higher levels of mortality on Amherst that will result in the local extinction of these four species and have irreversible impacts on Eastern Meadowlarks and Bobolinks. Our requests for a radar study of bird and bat migration was ignored and the environmental impact of the project was grossly minimized in their EBR,” said Kurt Hennige president of the Kingston Field Naturalists. -30- About Nature Canada Nature Canada is the oldest national nature organization in Canada with 45,000 members and supporters. Nature Canada’s mission is to protect and conserve Canada’s wildlife by working with people and advocating for nature. Nature Canada is Canadian co-partner of BirdLife International. About Ontario Nature Ontario Nature protects wild species and wild spaces through conservation, education and public engagement. Ontario Nature is a charitable organization representing more than 30,000 members and supporters, and 150 member groups across Ontario. About American Bird Conservancy Established in 1994, American Bird Conservancy is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit membership organization whose mission is to conserve native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. ABC acts by safeguarding the rarest species, conserving and restoring habitats, and reducing threats, while building capacity in the bird conservation movement. ABC’s work has resulted in the establishment of 65 international bird reserves, with over 990,000 acres protected, and 3.5 million trees and shrubs planted to enhance bird habitat. About Kingston Field Naturalists The Kingston Field Naturalists (KFN) is a well-established nature club and charitable organization with about 450 members. Its objectives are the preservation of wildlife, natural habitats and the stimulation of people's interest in nature. Media Contacts Stephen Hazell Director of Conservation Nature Canada Tel: 613 562 3447 ext. 240 shazell@naturecanada.ca Joshua Wise Greenway Program Manager Ontario Nature Tel: 416-444-8419 joshuaw@ontarionature.org Michael Hutchins Director of the Bird-Smart Wind Energy Campaign American Bird Conservancy Tel: 202-888-7485 MHutchins@abcbirds.org Kurt Hennige President Kingston Field Naturalists Tel: 613-876-1804 khennige@xplornet.com

Small Victories, Big Impact
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Small Victories, Big Impact

[caption id="attachment_16447" align="alignleft" width="111"]Stephen Hazell Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and General Counsel[/caption] Standing up for nature sometimes means going to court. Nature Canada is currently fighting legal battles to protect three highly endangered species at risk: Blanding’s Turtle, Greater Sage Grouse, and Whooping Crane. On April 20, Prince Edward County Field Naturalists and Nature Canada achieved a big win for nature in a successful appeal to the Ontario Court of Appeal. We fought to ensure the court upheld an administrative tribunal decision that the Ostrander wind project would cause irreversible harm to the endangered Blanding’s Turtle. And now, wind energy companies must consider how their projects will effect turtles, birds, bats and other species. Nature Canada and Ecojustice are joining forces in Federal Court. We’re standing up for nature against the City of Medicine Hat and the LGL Oil Company who claim that an emergency order requiring them to protect the highly endangered Greater Sage Grouse is unconstitutional. As a result of the deaths of at least 23 critically endangered Whooping Cranes from starvation in Texas, Nature Canada recently intervened in an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Our brief argued that Texas must ensure that the birds have enough water to survive, regardless of the inconvenience to the state’s industrial water users. Our goal is to protect the one remaining migratory flock of about 300 Whooping Cranes that travel between Wood Buffalo National Park in Alberta and the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. Your support means these species at risk have their day in court. And while each case on its own may seem small, with your help we are ensuring nature’s voice is heard and creating legal precedents that mean more protections for species and their habitats. Thank you! blanding-sage-whooping

Wind Turbines vs. Turtles
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Wind Turbines vs. Turtles

Stephen 242x242 with title This is a guest post from Stephen Hazell, Director of C onservation & General Counsel       Was the Environmental Review Tribunal’s decision to reject the nine-turbine Ostrander wind development project in eastern Ontario based on the evidence of harm to the threatened Blanding’s turtle reasonable? This is a key issue that the Ontario Court of Appeal addressed in hearings on December 8 and 9 reviewing a Divisional Court decision that overturned the Tribunal’s decision. Nature Canada decided to intervene in this appeal because this project would be located in a key wetland complex along the shores of eastern Lake Ontario that is home to numerous species at risk, including the threatened Blanding’s Turtle. Ostrander Point is also part of a globally significant Important Bird Area and directly in one of the most important migratory routes for birds in North America (370 bird species!). Nature Canada also intervened because of the terrible (for nature) precedent that the lower court’s decision would set for species at risk across the country. The Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) have been waging this battle against the Ostrander Project for many years, and nature lovers packed the Toronto court room to hear the lawyers argue. I was one of those lawyers representing Nature Canada. The Tribunal had decided that the Ostrander project will cause “serious and irreversible effects” on the Blanding’s Turtle, but not on birds. The Divisional Court held that the Tribunal had not explained how the evidence dealt with the key legal test of irreversibility, and thus that the Tribunal’s decision was not reasonable. PECFN, which was the appellant before the Court of Appeal, argued that the Tribunal’s decision was reasonable and based on the evidence and that Divisional Court should have deferred to the Tribunal on its determinations of fact. On behalf of Nature Canada, I argued that the Tribunal had based its decision as to the irreversibility of the effects on the Blanding’s Turtle on the alteration to its habitat caused by the 5.2 km network of roads to be built through the various wetlands used by the turtles. Once constructed, the roads would result in increased turtle mortality due to vehicle collisions, poaching and predation by racoons and skunks. Experts at the Tribunal hearings had testified that Blanding’s turtles range widely (up to 6 km) through these wetlands and nest on the gravel road sides, increasing their vulnerability to these road-related impacts. The Tribunal had determined that the existence of the road network “directly in the habitat” of the turtles created irreversible effects that could not be mitigated. The Court of Appeal reserved its decision, which means a wait of several months at least before its decision and reasons are released. Several decisions are possible. Rejection of PECFN’s appeal would mean that the Ostrander project would go forward. Alternatively, the Court of Appeal could allow PECFN’s appeal and either deny the permit for the project, or send the matter back to the Environmental Review Tribunal for reconsideration.

Decision Time in the Appeal Court of Ontario – Nature Canada Intervenes to Save Ostrander Point
Photo by Cris Navarro, photographer for Bioblitz
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Decision Time in the Appeal Court of Ontario – Nature Canada Intervenes to Save Ostrander Point

Our very own Stephen Hazell, MSc LLB., donned his court robes and intervened on behalf of Nature Canada, in support of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists at a hearing in the highest court in Ontario on December 8. This hearing is the third in a battle between a small group of retired old ladies that are the driving force of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, backed by most of the county and Canada’s naturalist community, versus Gilead Corporation, a wind energy developer and the Ontario government’s Ministry of the Environment.
The nine turbine project is proposed on Crown land in the centre of the globally significant Prince Edward County South Shore Important Bird Area. The area on which the turbines are proposed is also a candidate provincial Area of Natural and Scientific Interest largely due to the presence of globally rare alvar habitat (a type of naturally occurring limestone pavement with its own communities of rare plants and insects), home to many provincial and federal species at risk including the Blanding’s Turtle and Eastern Whip-poor-will, a significant migratory route for 10,000 raptors each fall, including dozens of at-risk Golden Eagles, and within about 10 kilometres of the only Federal Government National Wildlife Area (NWA) designated for its role as a migratory landbird stop-over (Prince Edward Point NWA). The south shore of Prince Edward County is largely an intact natural area used for passive recreation, and the last significant vestige of this type of natural habitat on the entire north shore of Lake Ontario.
In addition to its role as a stop-over for hundreds of thousands of migratory birds, the area is also an important stop-over for the threatened Monarch butterfly. For decades, local groups have been attempting to conserve the south shore through land securement. Public lands, such as the Ostrander Crown Land Block, which was, as recently as the year 2000, subject to a restoration plan by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources to establish habitat for the endangered Henslow’s Sparrow, were assumed safe from industrial projects. [caption id="attachment_18635" align="alignnone" width="960"]Blandings Turtle Blanding`s Turtle photo by Ted Cheskey[/caption] With all of these attributes and after months of expert testimony and a decision of its own Environmental Tribunal in support of protecting the area, why are the Province and the developer so determined to push this project through the courts and destroy the functional value of this area for wildlife for a few turbines? Could it be that Ostrander Point, if successful, would be a gateway to many more turbines and much larger projects on the peninsula and offshore?
This project puts Nature Canada in a very uncomfortable position, but one that we have no choice to take. We are strong supporters of renewable energy, and we recognize and support dozens of wind energy projects across the country that pose minimal risk to birds and other wildlife. We also recognize that almost everything that we do in our lives has an impact on nature, and some things much more than others. As I write this, I note that Nature Canada is embarking on a major campaign, supported by Environment Canada, to reduce the impact of free-roaming cats – the most significant direct human cause of bird mortality in Canada, as well as collisions with windows and other structures. Wind turbines kill some birds and perhaps more bats, but the numbers are relatively minor compared to many other human-related activities. However, in places that have particularly important ecological functions, such as a migration corridor or habitat for species at risk, or stopover habitat for migrating birds, the negative impacts of industrial wind energy projects far outweigh any benefits. They have no place in these areas and are not in the public interest. Ostrander Point is one of these places that should be protected from industrialization, including any wind energy project.
Our opposition to Gilead’s project began many years ago through our role in BirdLife International’s Important Bird Area program as the national conservation advocate for Canada’s 600 Important Bird Areas. BirdLife International, the global authority on bird conservation, has spoken out against this project, putting the Prince Edward County South Shore IBA on its list of the top 350 most threatened IBAs in the world. Over the past several years, we have come to recognize that Ostrander Point has many other virtues beyond its importance for birds. It really is in the public interest and our responsibility as global citizens to protect places like Ostrander Point from industrial threats and ensure that renewable energy projects are about ‘good ideas in good places.’ I salute those members of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists who clearly do represent the public interest both locally and globally and have demonstrated incredible sacrifice and tenacity in fighting this project. Visit their Save Ostrander Point website to learn more.
Ted Cheskey Senior Manager, Bird Conservation Programs

Endangered species stand a chance of recovering with young nature lovers on their side
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Endangered species stand a chance of recovering with young nature lovers on their side

"What kinds of obstacles do migratory birds face?", asked a Nature Canada conservation specialist during a visit to an Ottawa grade one class. "No food!", said one child. "Predators!", said another. As part of Nature Canada's outreach and education activities, we have been working with elementary schools across the city of Ottawa to raise awareness of the challenges migratory birds face and provide suggestions for small things kids can do at home to protect wildlife. Hundreds of school children from grade one to grade six have heard mini, child-friendly presentations by Nature Canada staff on local endangered birds. They've also made colourful bird masks, played a game simulating the challenges of migration and have even used their creativity to help produce a unique stop-motion animation featuring three endangered birds found in the area. [one_third]kids with masks - Copy[/one_third] [one_third]close up of kids with masks[/one_third] [one_third_last]kids running with masks - Copy[/one_third_last] Just yesterday, the kids of Regina Elementary School were invited to the Canadian Museum of Nature to tour the museum's Birds of Canada gallery with a Nature Canada conservation specialist on hand to enhance the experience. They had an amazing time and were fascinated by the variety of bird species in Canada. kids at museum looking at bird displayThey later joined a reception for Nature Canada members held at the Museum of Nature and were able to watch the first version of their stop-motion animation video. They were very pleased with the video they had helped to create! When Eleanor Fast, Executive Director of Nature Canada, wrapped-up the reception, she ended her remarks by asking if anyone had questions or comments. A Regina School student's hand shot up. "I'm very sad about Blanding's Turtle," he said. Indeed, we are all very sad about the decline of Blanding's Turtle. Thankfully, Blanding's Turtle stands a chance of surviving when kids like this little lad care about protecting it.  

Construction project in critical habitat gets nod from Ontario court, Nature Canada dismayed
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Construction project in critical habitat gets nod from Ontario court, Nature Canada dismayed

February 21, 2014 (Ottawa) – Nature Canada is dismayed at the decision by the Ontario Divisional Court to green light a construction project in an important site for endangered species. The court’s ruling overturns the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal’s decision to stop a wind energy project in a globally Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA). The site is located on provincially owned land in Ostrander Point, Prince Edward County. Last year, the tribunal found that the project would cause serious and irreversible harm to Blanding’s Turtles, an endangered species. It also had the potential to harm bird and bat populations as well as important natural habitat. For those reasons and others, the Tribunal ruled the project could not continue. Prince Edward Country Field Naturalists (PECFN), supported by Nature Canada, launched the appeal which stopped the project from moving forward. However, this latest ruling sets the bar even higher for citizens’ groups and naturalists seeking to challenge government decisions that pose a threat to species at risk and migratory birds. Nature Canada has long pushed for wind energy projects to be built in areas that make sense rather than in areas that would greatly harm local biodiversity and endangered species. We are extremely disappointed with the court’s decision to overturn the Tribunal’s ruling and go on side with Gilead Power, the developer behind the project. We do, however, applaud the efforts of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, led by President Myrna Wood, who worked tirelessly to protect this critical natural habitat from development. -30- [one_half][separator headline="h2" title="About Nature Canada:"] Nature Canada is the oldest national nature conservation charity in Canada. Over the past 75 years, we’ve helped protect over 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and the countless species that depend on this habitat. Today, we represent a network of over 45,000 members & supporters and more than 350 nature organizations in every province across Canada. Our mission is to protect and conserve nature in Canada by engaging Canadians and by advocating on behalf of nature. [/one_half] [one_half_last][separator headline="h2" title="Media contacts:"] Paul Jorgenson, Senior Communications Manager, Nature Canada 613-562-3447 ext. 248 pjorgenson@naturecanada.ca Monica Tanaka, Communications Coordinator, Nature Canada 613-562-3447 ext 241 mtanaka@naturecanada.ca [/one_half_last]

Species Spotlight: Blanding’s Turtle
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Species Spotlight: Blanding’s Turtle

Sarah Kirkpatrick-Wahl is the Species At Risk Intern at Nature Canada. Sarah is starting a new blog series , where every week she will be  Get to know some of the species at risk in the Lac Deschênes IBA with the "Species Spotlight", aka "Sp-Spot". Today meet the: Blanding's Turtle.   [caption id="attachment_652" align="alignleft" width="300"] Photo by Beatrice Laporte[/caption] Scientific Name: Emydoidea blandingii Federal SARA Status: Threatened; Ontario: Threatened; Quebec: Threatened Taxonomic Group: Reptiles Size: Shell size up to 27 cm in length The Blanding’s Turtle is easily recognisable with its bright yellow lower jaw, throat and plastron (lower shell). It is a medium sized turtle with a uniquely domed shell. Blanding’s Turtles are usually found in shallow freshwater such as large wetlands and shallow lakes, but sometimes travel across dry land in search of mates or nesting sites. Where else can you see this species? Blanding’s Turtles in Canada are found mostly in Ontario, however there are also a few isolated populations in Quebec and Nova Scotia. Did You Know? • The hinge at the front of the plastron allows some Blanding's Turtles to completely close their shell after retracting their head and feet. • The Blanding’s Turtle is an exceptionally long-lived species and can survive in the wild for over 75 years. • Due to their distinctive marking and non-aggressive temperament, collection of wild Blanding’s Turtles for sale in the pet trade is a growing threat. Removal of even a single adult from the population can have a significant effect on the population since a female can take up to 25 years to mature, and she will only lay clutches of 3 to 19 eggs every few years.  Check back every week to read about a different species at risk that can be found in Lac Deschênes. You can report sightings of this and other rare species on the MNR Natural Heritage Information Centre website. A photo and a location are very helpful!

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