So far, our programs have been going full tilt since May. We have had Oregon spotted frogs laying and growing in our head starting program at the Greater Vancouver Zoo, turtles nesting and eggs hatching in our incubators, and Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies breeding, laying eggs and larva; growing into summer diapause! So much to do, so much to learn!

Our Oregon spotted frog season started with a blast producing over 6000 tadpoles for release. We are also rearing approximately 1000 tadpoles to the small froglets stage for release as well, as to grow our ex-situ breeding colony. We will mark our froglets in early September for release and then start preparing the breeding colonies for overwintering.

Western painted turtles saw great success in wild nesting this year with over 20 nests laid by turtles WPC had previously head started and released! This is huge news. Our releases are resulting in animals successfully building nests. We were able to take in exactly 400 eggs for head starting this year which comprise a combination of eggs from community-based conservation efforts, our reintroduction sites, road struck females and eggs from specific ponds of concern.

We have seen great hatching success, even being able to hatch out eggs from a female that was fatally struck by a car. We also saw some of our smallest eggs and smallest hatchlings from a very young female. Normally a hatchling would weigh an average of about 5g at hatch – this year we had a hatchling at 2.8g and they are doing great. Small and feisty!

Our Taylors checkerspot season has gone well. Breeding occurred in May and June and those caterpillars produced are just about to go into their diapause, which is butterfly hibernation, until spring of next year. Overall Taylors checkerspot butterfly populations were down significantly in the wild this year. This isn’t an immediate concern as insect populations do tend to fluctuate, however it is good to know that the most successful Canadian population by far has been the population our ex-situ program repopulated on Hornby Island. 

Andrea Gielens

Lead Biologist – Fraser Valley Wetlands Wildlife

Andrea manages WPC’s captive breeding and release programs for the Oregon spotted frog and the coastal western painted turtle. Andrea has studied at-risk reptiles and amphibians in Canada and abroad, including a term at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in Jersey. Andrea also manages the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly recovery program in BC.

Andrea Gielens

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