©Harry Schut, FotoSchut Photography
Species at Risk
Ontario’s Snapping Turtle has been added to Ontario’s Species at Risk list. Hundreds of turtles have die each year, most of them needlessly. Some deaths are due to habitat destruction but the top threat is cars and trucks. A large number of these turtles are getting run over on Ontario’s highways. This year the number of turtle deaths is surprisingly high.
Since it takes up to 20 years to reach maturity, the death of even one of these turtles can be devastating to the overall population. Spring and early summer are when these turtles are laying their eggs. The highway shoulders are a great place for the turtles to lay their eggs, because they’re soft, gravelly and very warm. Unfortunately, turtles can’t quickly get out of the way of cars and trucks, and as such cannot adapt quickly to this threat. Please watch for turtles as you’re driving, and avoid hitting them.
When safe to do so, you could help a turtle cross the road. Make sure you’re pointing the turtle in the same direction as he/she started, and move it off the roadway about two meters. Caution is advised when handling Snapping Turtles. As their name suggests, they can bite. Caution is also advised when stopping to help these animals. Stopping in the left lane of a multi lane road or highway is not advised, as the results could be deadly for the turtle and yourself.
If you want a selfie with the turtle, make sure you do so quickly so it doesn’t become disoriented and head right back onto the roadway. The Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre is a good place to contact if you find an injured turtle. Often they can repair the turtle’s shell, allowing it to heal properly.