The world’s freshwater bodies are home to a myriad of fascinating creatures, including turtles. However, these resilient reptiles are not immune to the threats posed by human activities and environmental factors. When injured or afflicted by illness, turtles often find themselves in need of rehabilitation to heal and return to their natural habitats. One of WPC’s roles in the recovery of western painted turtles in BC is to provide veterinary care and rehabilitation for sick and injured turtles in the region.


Turtles play a vital role in ecosystems, acting as indicators of environmental health and contributing to the balance of various ecosystems. Unfortunately, they are highly vulnerable to the detrimental effects of pollution, habitat destruction, entanglement in fishing gear, boat strikes, and infectious diseases. When turtles are injured or fall ill, they require specialized care to recover and regain their strength. One of WPC’s roles in the recovery of western painted turtles in BC is to provide veterinary care and rehabilitation for sick and injured turtles in the region.

Sick and injured turtle rehabilitation involves a multi-step process, beginning with the initial intake and assessment of the turtle’s condition. Skilled veterinarians and wildlife rehabilitators carefully examine the turtle, identifying injuries, infections, or other health issues. This process may involve blood tests, X-rays, and physical examinations to determine the most appropriate treatment plan.

Once the turtle’s condition is assessed, a tailored treatment plan is implemented. This may involve wound cleaning, administering medication, and providing proper nutrition. In some cases, surgical intervention is required for severe injuries or to remove foreign objects. We provide a safe and controlled environment for the turtles, ensuring their needs are met while minimizing stress.

Rehabilitation doesn’t end with physical recovery. Turtles need to be closely monitored to ensure they are ready to return to their natural habitats. This includes observing their feeding habits, behavior, and overall health. Once deemed fit for release, turtles are carefully transported back to their native environments, where they can continue to thrive and contribute to their ecosystems.

Sick and injured turtle rehabilitation plays a crucial role in preserving these reptiles and the ecosystems they inhabit. Through a combination of veterinary care and long-term monitoring, rehabilitation facilities provide a lifeline to these vulnerable creatures. Tireless efforts not only heal individual turtles but also contribute to the conservation and understanding of these magnificent animals. By supporting and promoting the work of rehabilitation centers, we can actively participate in the preservation of turtles and the delicate balance of our natural world.

This video from CBC shows how this western painted turtle’s cracked shell was repaired by staff at the Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre near Ile des Chênes, Man. (Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre)

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.

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