Turtle hatching season is upon us! On August 30th, the Huron Stewardship Council joined forces with Ausable Bayfield Conservation to celebrate our newest arrivals. Throughout the afternoon, forty snapping turtle hatchlings were released into the wild at Morrison Dam Conservation Area. This event has been gaining in popularity, and we were thrilled to see over 900 people attend this year! With the generous donations of this year’s attendees, we are able donate $1,300 to the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre (OTCC), home to Ontario’s largest turtle hospital.
All released turtles originated from eggs laid near the release site. In June, nests were laid in locations where the eggs or hatchlings were unlikely to survive. With appropriate permits, all recovered eggs were incubated by the HSC, and the turtles were hatched in captivity. Just days after hatching, the turtles were ready to enter the wild! The hatchlings were released by HSC staff members and HSC volunteers, giving the public the opportunity to see a young snapping turtle up-close and learn about turtle conservation. Just a friendly reminder that without appropriate permits, you should not disturb a natural turtle nest or handle wildlife. If you have turtles nesting on your property and would like to give the hatchlings a better chance of survival, you can build a nest cage to protect the eggs from predators. Instructions for building a turtle nest protector can be found here.
We were lucky to be joined by Scales Nature Park, Pinery Provincial Park, Huron County Library (Exeter Branch), and Ausable Bayfield Conservation. Scales Nature Park attended with several captive species of snakes and turtles. Visitors could also enjoy a turtle-themed story along the McNaughton trail, a geocaching activity, and hands-on educational displays. Turtle-themed merchandise including t-shirts and ‘Brake for Turtles’ magnets were available for purchase. Turtle cupcakes were also a bit hit!
We had a great time running the event, and hope all who attended enjoyed themselves and learned more about reptiles. We would like to extend a huge thank you to all of our our partners, and to all who came out to attend this event. We greatly appreciate your support!
Unfortunately, all of Ontario’s eight turtle species are now listed as species-at-risk. If you would like to donate to support the protection and conservation of Ontario’s native turtles, please visit the OTCC’s website. With a minimum $20 donation, the OTCC will issue a charitable tax receipt. You can also become an OTCC member, and your membership fees will directly benefit operation of the turtle hospital.