Conservation of the Species

Turtles have declined in Ontario and around the world by more than 50% in the last 20 years. We are at risk of losing these species forever. Like other reptiles, turtles are the most imperiled species in the world. This is because turtles face many predators and threats and therefore have very low recruitment rates: scientists estimate only 1 in 100 eggs will make it to adulthood. If turtles lay about 10 eggs a year that means they have to nest for at least 10 years to replace themselves. One of the biggest threats to their survival is road mortality; females reaching nesting sites.

Legal Considerations

Please don't remove turtles from their natural habitats. Turtles are protected under the Endangered Species Act in Ontario and Species at Risk Act in Canada. Also turtle nest sites are protected under this legislation as Critical Species At Risk Habitats. Also, removing turtles from wild populations reducing the number of breeding turtles for the next generations and reduces populations for all time.

Health Considerations

Turtles carry salmonella, so that when you touch a turtle to help it cross a road, it is important to wash your hands!

Injured Turtles

If you see an injured turtle and it is possible to rescue it, place it is a plastic box with air holes, keep it warm, do not add water, and contact a turtle hospital. There may be a nearby turtle hospital or volunteers that can bring the turtle to a trauma centre: Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre or Scales Nature Park or Contact Us

Turtle Nesting and Nests

Turtle nests are readily predated by many animals, because all animals love to eat turtle eggs. You can help protect the nest by making a nesting cage using 2" chicken wire (the size is important to let the little ones escape once they hatch) and forming a box shape that is 1.5 x 15 feet and at least 6" inches high so that fox legs cannot  readily dig at the nest. You can secure the nesting protector cage using tent pegs. Placing rocks or coloured objects on the cage will only attract predators such as birds that will watch and await the hatchlings exit. Download our Nest Cage Protector GuideC4P_Howtoguide_TurtleNestCagesThanks to The Land Between's Green Betweeners!

Every turtle lays a different amount of eggs, at different times and with varying gestation periods. See Turtles and Habitats for our nesting chart

If the weather is too cold, the turtles may not hatch, and if they do, they are likely going to be all male. If the summer is warm and the nest at the right depth, a productive group of young turtles will emerge. Hatchlings may not know how to get to water, but it is important to leave them to their journey now that they have made it out of the nest.

Helping Turtles and Turtle Habitats on Your Property

Every turtle is important to protect and to keep within its natural habitat to support future generations of turtles.  We do not condone taking wild turtles as pets- this limits the numbers of turtles in the already limited populations.

If you have good turtle habitats on your property, it is important to protect these habitats by limiting changes and damage to the habitat. High boat wakes may damage shoreline wetland habitats, and removing plant materials will certainly degrade habitats. Walking or driving on sandy nesting areas will damage these areas. You can put signs and small barriers around nest sites and wetlands on your property, and direct trails, roads or activities away from important features. And you can install a turtle nest cage to protect nests from predators. The Turtle Guardian Program may provide nesting cages that have been tested to ensure that young turtles can escape and which limit predation. There are many programs that may help you conserve habitats including grants, and tax benefits too.

You can improve turtle habitat by adding features that turtles need and use: you can plant native plants to buffer wetlands and nesting areas, and to attract more species that turtles eat (frogs, snails, bugs); and you can leave dead logs that float in the water as good basking areas for turtles.

You can even restore or create good habitats for turtles by ponding water in shallow areas, planting native plant species, and by adding good sandy and gravely material in adjacent areas on south facing slopes for nests. There are many programs that may help pay for habitat restoration and creation.

Contact us for a site visit and to help you with a turtle habitat stewardship plan and to identify options for conservation. IMG_0012