Wednesday, May 23 is World Turtle Day. Below is a story by Bruce Power’s Maggie Tieman on how you can help turtles who right now are looking for places to lay their eggs.
Road mortality is a leading threat to our turtle populations. The gravel shoulders are a particularly deadly attraction to females looking for places to lay their eggs because the gravel seems ideal to them for digging in. They usually make their nests in May and June, so now is the time to be most attentive.
“Turtles come out of the water to lay their eggs, and as they move around on land they cross roads, and the adults often are hit,” says Jeff Hathaway, Owner-Operator, Scales Nature Park. “You can be a turtle crossing guard pretty easily by simply picking up a turtle and moving it to the other side — not back to the lake, because then it has to start it’s trek all over again to go back to its nesting site.”
If you spot a turtle on the road, obey traffic rules and use your judgment to ensure your and other vehicles’ safety before slowing down or stopping for a turtle. Stop off of the road until it has crossed safely or help it cross the road in the direction it was going. With the exception of snapping turtles, Ontario’s turtle species can be picked up safely with a hand on either side of its shell — just tilt its tail away from you to avoid the turtle urinating on you. For snapping turtles, use a shovel or board to carefully lift it, pointing the head away from you and keeping your fingers clear from its legs and mouth.
Learn more about how you can help the turtle population in Ontario with the video below created by the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation, with contributions from Bruce Power.