Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Helping turtles

Once May and June come around it's time for turtles to leave their ponds in search of nesting sites.
Often they'll lay their eggs right beside the pond on a high, dry spot but most likely they end up crossing busy roads in search of the perfect location. Whenever I see a turtle I pull over and help it across. It seems this year I've helped move more turtles than ever. Sadly, I often see dead turtles on the road. Last year I contacted the Ontario MNR to install turtle fencing along hwy 17 near Petawawa; when we drove there to go camping we saw several dead snapping turtles.

This morning on the way to work I pulled over and watched for ten minutes while a snapping turtle started a nest along the creek in Kinburn. I wanted to be sure she didn't cross the road. If she did, I would have moved her across safely.

If you see a turtle beside the road or crossing the road, please help it across. It's easy to move the smaller painted turtles since they won't bite but be careful with a large snapping turtle. If you grasp their shell by the sides, they can use their long neck to bite and they have very powerful jaws. Always move a turtle where it's going, don't move it back to where it came from. If you do, they'll just have to start all over again. I include a video at the end of this post made by the Toronto Zoo that shows how to move a snapping turtle. It's pretty ingenious to use a car mat and drag them, that way you don't get bit. If you're too nervous to move them, you can usually walk behind them and get them to walk across the road.

Turtles are becoming more and more threatened so it's important to help as many as we can. Whenever we go camping, we're guaranteed to pull over on the side of the highway for me to help a turtle. Picture Eric on the side of the road with the camper and me running down the highway like Usain Bolt to get the turtle before traffic comes and it gets run over.

Here's a few pictures of some snapping turtles I've helped this year. I've helped some painted ones but forgot to take pictures. These were all taken with my BlackBerry since that's all I had on me at the time, I'm usually going to work when I come across them.

This one I came across in Kinburn. A guy was standing beside it but didn't know how to move it. She was very feisty and tried biting us several times so he went home and got a shovel and we moved her safely. She bit my umbrella the entire time we moved her.

Video direct link in case the embed doesn't show up on mobile, email etc.

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