Turtles and Guardians

Seven of Ontario’s eight native turtle species are currently at-risk. Turtle populations have declined globally in the last 20 years by about 50%. Predation by raccoons, skunks and foxes is a major problem for turtle nests. Turtles are killed on roads as they cross to reach annual nesting sites. Some turtles, such as Snapping Turtles, are killed by humans for food or who mistake them as dangerous to have in lakes and ponds. Turtles are also taken out of breeding populations to be kept as pets. Turtles can live over 250 years but it takes them at least 80 years of laying eggs to ensure the survival of one new turtle. Most turtles killed on roads are females, so most turtles we see in lakes and ponds are males. Snapping turtles help maintain water quality and keep lakes clean by eating dead matter. Turtle’s are an essential part of the our wetlands ecosystem, their habitat regulates water quality and quantity and is essential for the survival of fish and wildlife as well as our own health and wellbeing.

Turtle Guardians help conserve turtles and turtle habitats. They help to increase survival of turtle eggs by receiving and installing protective cages with safe exit points on nest sites. They help to conserve turtle populations by learning to identify, monitor and report turtle sightings and habitat features and then by applying conservation and stewardship measures on their properties. Volunteers are provided with education and support through workshops, presentations, online resources, and access to project field experts.

The Turtle Guardian Program delivery area for workshops and events is focused in The Land Between- a region harboring the majority populations of many turtles in Ontario.

The Land Between region

A Group Effort

Few conservation groups in Ontario are focused on helping to conserve and monitor turtles. Those with this ambition and mandate have joined together to create the Turtle Guardian program. By joining efforts, we can better support turtle conservation and research in Ontario; and Turtle Guardians benefit from all of our resources. The Land Between and Kids For Turtles Environmental Education are leading this effort and providing infrastructure, education, and site visits for the program. Information from the Turtle Guardians program is shared with the Toronto Zoo and Ontario Nature who assemble location information for the Reptile Atlas and within their Adopt-a-pond program. They also provide great educational materials and support! Other conservancies provide site visits, expertise and benefits in support of land stewardship and securement for the future. And if Guardians decide to share information from their own properties or public areas, we will provide locations of turtles to government planning authorities who use this information in planning and mitigation projects.