You are invited to help release turtle hatchlings, and learn more about local turtles
Eggs from species-at-risk Snapping Turtles recovered, incubated; Local people can release Snapping Turtle hatchlings into wild on September 1 in exchange for donation to Turtle Conservation Centre
Local people have a rare chance to release local species-at-risk turtle hatchlings into the wild. Those who want to release a Snapping Turtle hatchling or learn more about local turtles are invited to visit the Morrison Dam Conservation Area, 2 km east of Exeter, at 71108 Morrison Line, on Thursday, September 1, 2016, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
There are four clutches of turtles to be released. Two clutches are to be released from Morrison Line; one clutch from the MacNaughton-Morrison Section of the South Huron Trail and one on Ausable Line (that clutch is from a female turtle that was hit by a car).
“For me, it is very emotional to see turtles rescued, hatched, and then released,” said Jory Mullen, Lead Species at Risk Technician with the Huron Stewardship Council (HSC). “Our native Ontario turtle species face many threats such as cars and from having their eggs eaten by other predators in the wild,” she said. “It makes me feel very hopeful, however, to see turtles released so our community can play a positive role in the work to save these important species.”
Two female turtles laid eggs dangerously close to Morrison Line, just above Morrison Dam, in June. Mullen collected those eggs. She collected eggs near the MacNaughton-Morrison Section of the South Huron Trail and also when a female turtle was hit by a car on Ausable Line. About 100 eggs were incubated for about 65 days. The hatchlings are now ready to be released and returned to the wild.
Members of the public are invited to help release the turtle hatchlings for a donation of any amount to the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre (OTCC) in Peterborough. OTCC is home to the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre. The OTCC provides emergency medical and rehabilitative care to native wild turtles hit by cars on our roadways. Every year more than 500 injured turtles are brought to the centre. These turtles most often have life-threatening injuries because they have been run over by vehicles. Road mortality is one of the biggest threats facing turtles, according to Mullen. There are eight native turtle species in Ontario. Seven of those species are at risk.
In addition to releasing the Snapping Turtle hatchlings, HSC and Ausable Bayfield Conservation staff will be at the September 1 event to provide information on local turtle species. Staff members are to have ‘Brake for Turtles’ and ‘Brake for Snakes’ bumper magnets for sale as well as unique artwork painted by native turtles and snakes. All proceeds from these sales go towards the OTCC. Any donation of twenty dollars or more is eligible for a charitable gift receipt for income tax purposes. “Without the important work that the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre does, we would lose far more turtles from our local populations,” said Hope Brock, Healthy Watersheds Technician with Ausable Bayfield Conservation. “Saving even one adult turtle by safely moving them across the road can help conserve that species.”
Even when a few turtles are removed from the turtle population, by car-related deaths, it hurts the future of the turtle population, said Mullen. “That is because female turtles reproduce so slowly and most of a mother turtle’s babies die,” she said.
This year’s event follows a very successful fundraiser hosted by the HSC last year in which $800 was raised within an hour. That fundraiser was for Julie Sawchuk, a Huron County woman and Share the Road advocate, who was struck by a car while bicycling and who was then paralyzed. She writes of her recovery, more than a year after the collision, on a web log at juliesawchuk.blogspot.ca.