Saving Ontario’s turtles
Posted onNovember 3, 2021by|,
All eight of Ontario’s native freshwater turtle species are listed as at-risk federally.
To address this crisis, in 2020 WPC led the formation of the Working Group for the Conservation of Ontario Turtles to bring together expertise in hands-on management to recover Ontario turtles. There are many organizations across the province collecting nests laid in dangerous locations, such as gravel roadsides, and artificially incubating the eggs to increase their survival to hatching stage. Once the eggs hatch, the hatchlings are released back to a safe location near where the female laid the eggs. The primary aim of the working group is to increase coordination and collaboration among Ontario’s turtle conservation community to identify priority actions and increase the impact and knowledge gained from these existing efforts.
Blanding’s turtle laying a nest in a dangerous location on the gravel shoulder of a road. Photo: Hannah McCurdy-Adams
One of the group’s first projects has been to write best-practice guidelines for conservation practitioners working with turtle nests, eggs, and hatchlings in Ontario. We will be expanding these protocols to include headstarting – where hatchlings are further raised in conservation facilities to juvenile size, over at least one winter. The protocols will be informed by a facilitated participatory workshop planned for early 2022 with assistance from our Canadian Species Initiative team. This multi-stakeholder, multi-species, collaborative, and broad-scale approach will prioritize the ex situ conservation needs for all eight species of turtles in Ontario, while building the capacity of the turtle conservation community in Ontario, and helping to coordinate efforts to ensure greater efficiency and effectiveness of projects across the province.
A recently hatched Blanding’s turtle, left, and right, a released Blanding’s turtle. Incubated by the Canadian Wildlife Federation in 2018. Photo: Hannah McCurdy-Adams.
This project was undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through the federal Department of Environment and Climate Change.