Turtle Nesting Season Has Begun

file photo

Seven of Ontario's turtle species are listed at risk, so if you see one on your driveway, in your yard, or trying to cross the road, make sure to help keep them safe.

The 2019 turtle nesting season has started in the Upper Thames River Watershed. 

This means that you will start seeing turtles on the roads, in yards and maybe even on your driveway. Right now seven of Ontario's turtle species are listed as at risk. Even our most common species, the Midland Painted Turtle, is experiencing declines in some areas. Everyone is reminded to watch out for our spiny little friends and make sure we don't contribute to their decline. 

You can help by watching for turtles crossing the road and, when it’s safe to do so, helping them across the road. Placing the turtle back in the nearest wetland area is advised (regardless of the direction it was moving). If you're helping a turtle across the road, use care when you lift the animal, keep it low to the ground in case it falls, and ensure your hands and arms are always behind the turtle and away from its head. 

With turtle populations declining across the province, all adult turtles are important to local populations. Some turtles in this region may be close to 100 years old, so you really are encountering a piece of history when you meet a turtle along a roadway. 

If you find a turtle nesting on your property, do not disturb her. Eggs may take 50 to 90 days to hatch and, in some species, hatchlings stay in the nest until the following spring. Try to avoid stepping on the nest and know that you are doing your part in aiding species in need. Many nests are destroyed by predators, but those that survive contribute to increasing or maintaining turtle populations in this area.

The UTRCA is always interested in sightings of the following species:

- Spiny Softshell Turtle (Endangered) – large sized turtle (females 35-46 cm, males 20-24 cm) with green to brown flat, leathery shell, with a long neck and long snorkel-like snout 

- Spotted Turtle (Endangered) small turtle (10-12 cm) with a black shell with small yellow spots

- Blanding's Turtle (Threatened) - medium sized turtle (18-23 cm) with a black high-domed shell, often with yellow flecks, and bright yellow throat 

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