As the end of turtle nesting season approaches, let’s take a minute to appreciate these reptiles that have been around for 200 million years. The nesting season runs from late May to early July. This is a critical time. When turtles are actively looking for breeding partners and nesting habitats. That’s why you’re seeing more turtles on roadways and gravel shoulders. It’s also why drivers need to stay alert at all times.
You’re more likely to spot turtles on roadways around wetlands and river crossings. We see a lot of activity in the Hillsburgh, Erin and Orangeville areas, but urban parts of the watershed – like Meadowvale Village and Rattray Marsh – also see increased activity.
In Ontario there are eight native turtle species, seven of which are species at risk, meaning they are in danger of becoming extinct. Four of those species live right here in the watershed: the Midland painted turtle, eastern snapping turtle, northern map turtle and Blanding’s turtle. The eastern snapping turtle and northern map turtle are classified as species of special concern, meaning they are sensitive to human activity or natural events. The Blanding’s turtle is classified as threatened and the Midland painted turtle is not considered at risk.
What can you do to help keep these species safe at this critical time of year?
- Be aware of your surroundings. If you are near wetlands or river crossings remember you’re in turtle territory.
- Watch roadways for crossing turtles.
- If you see a turtle and can safely move it to the shoulder, do so. Make sure to move it in the same direction it is travelling.
- Remember – the eastern snapping turtle should be handled with care because it bites. For advice on how to move this turtle, see this video from The Toronto Zoo.
To learn more about turtle species, please visit Adopt-a-Pond.