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Helping To Save Endangered Turtles

Photo credit: Upper Thames River Conservation Authority

Spiny Softshell Turtles are one of the species that researchers at the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority are working hard to recover.

WOODSTOCK - The Upper Thames River Conservation Authority has seen Spiny Softshell Turtles at high risk this year.

Species at Risk Biologist, Scott Gillingwater says climate change was one of the factors.

"The nests, if left unattended, if they weren't predated, if they weren't crushed or taken by people, they would either be cooked in the ground under the high heat that we've had or they would be flooded out and drowned under the high waters."

The abnormally cool weather this past April and May caused a two week delay in the nesting period, followed by extreme heat and storms which affected the recovery process.

They are endangered both provincially and federally.

Gillingwater says coyotes are among the threats to look out for regarding the turtles.

"Other threats include getting caught on fishing lines, habitat loss and even non-native plants will crowd out nesting sites so that causes a bit of an issue as well."

The Spiny Softshell Turtle have seen an increase in population since the UTRCA began protecting eggs in the 1990s. It's seen a rise in the number of turtles, including all age classes, an increase in the numbers of nests laid and in their range along the Thames River. 

They say a small number of them reach adulthood, so it’s critical for biologists to protect the eggs and release as many hatchling turtles as possible.

Thanks to their team's efforts in recovering a lot of nests, Gillingwater says they'll have anywhere between 4,000 to 5,000 hatchling turtles to release this year.

If anyone is interested in learning more about the Spiny Softshell Recovery Project, or to make a donation, you can head to their website.

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