Thu. Feb 29th, 2024
Help us protect Ontario's turtles

Threats such as habitat loss, predators, and vehicle collisions are causing turtles to disappear from the landscape at an alarming rate. All eight of Ontario’s turtle species are now at risk.

We are seeking donations for our Turtle Protection Project. Every dollar raised will be used to fund turtle research and protection projects in provincial parks.

Why are Ontario’s turtles at risk?

First, we are losing more adult turtles to trafficking.

Sand and gravel on the sides of roads create excellent nesting conditions for turtles. It’s easy for female turtles to burrow and offers plenty of sun to keep their eggs warm.

But the risk of being hit by vehicles increases considerably for adult turtles when they cross the road to lay their eggs or move between their favorite habitats.

turtle near the road

The survival of the species depends on adult turtles producing many eggs over a very long life, and turtles need between 8 and 25 years before reaching reproductive age.

A vehicle collision can be a devastating blow to the population due to the turtles’ slow recovery rate.

Some groups of animals (think rabbits) can adjust the number of offspring they produce when the adults in the population are disappearing.

Turtles can’t.

So, when adult turtles are killed on the road year after year, their total number begins to decline dramatically.

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Second: the difficult path for baby turtles to adulthood

Painted turtle on a log

After laying their eggs, mother turtles leave their nests unattended and return to the water. The eggs are often dug up and eaten by animals such as raccoons, foxes, and skunks.

Even after hatching, these tiny baby turtles face a long and dangerous journey to the water.

painted turtle in sand

Taking into account risks and natural predators, it is estimated that less than 2% of turtle hatchlings survive to adulthood.

When we add threats like habitat loss and dangerous road crossings, it’s no wonder turtles need our help.

So how do Ontario parks protect turtles?

Nest covers are used in many provincial parks and have helped successfully protect batches of eggs from predators until they hatch.

tortoiseTurtle breeding in cover

Ontario parks are home to important turtle research projects, including monitoring the survival of Blandings and Wood turtle hatchlings using radio telemetry.

Other parks have installed ecopassages (wildlife crossings) or turtle fencing in key crossing areas to reduce turtle mortality on roads.

ecopassage fenceThe fence encourages small creatures, such as turtles, to follow the path until they find the eco-passage.

Ontario Parks staff and researchers have also been using artificial nesting mounds in Algonquin and Presqu’ile provincial parks to provide turtles with safe places to lay their eggs.

snapping turtleEmily Provincial Park’s Snapping Turtle Peak plays a vital role in educating visitors about the importance of turtles in our waterways and helps demonstrate how to safely move turtles across the road during nesting season.

And, of course, all Ontario Parks staff keep an eye on adults crossing the road and emerging chicks, helping them navigate busy areas of the park.

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The Turtle Protection Project: we need your help

We want to do more for turtles.

Your donation has the power to help us create on-the-ground solutions like nest covers and wildlife crossings, and will help us conduct research to protect turtles in Ontario parks.

hand holding a small turtle

We have begun some of this work. But with its help, we can greatly expand our capabilities and impact on our parks.

How to donate:

Ready to join our turtle protection team?

Call 705-313-2462 or email [email protected] to support our turtles with a donation today!

We will keep you informed through an email update about the projects your donation will make possible this spring.

Gifts that do good: Available in the Ontario Parks store!

Buy the Turtle Protection Collection online to support work on the ground!

With more than $95,000 raised so far, several turtle protection projects in our parks are already using funds.

Please make your donation today. Thank you.