It is that season! Here are some tips to help you spot and therefore help turtles on roads:
1. Here is the general routine for when turtles are on and near roads in southcentral Ontario:
May- painted hatchlings emerging and larger turtles basking on roads and heading to feeding grounds. (This year turtles were a month early).
May to July- nesting season;
August to October- new hatchlings and all turtles heading to hibernation sites.
2. A bit more specifically; turtles will likely be on roads when the ambient air temperatures are between 15 degrees and 28 degrees Celsius, but not when it is too much cooler or hotter...unless it is raining.
3. Also turtles are likely to be on the roads more often during the morning after 8am when the day warms up, and until noon - but not as often in the midday heat- and then again in the late afternoon until sundown (especially during nesting season)
Turtles typically are on roads or cross roads between wetlands (not always, but most often). Turtles are more comfortable and agile in water and therefore they like to stay close to lowlands. So, if you are travelling and see a dip in the road coming ahead, if you are heading towards a low lying area, or you can see that the road shoulders are bounded by cattails and marsh, that is when to look widely and ahead for those marvelous slow moving rocks- our incredible agents of biodiversity that take 60 years to be replaced in nature.
Knowing these facts will make it easier to anticipate turtles and therefore to be able to react safely for other drivers, yourself and the turtles too.
And a reminder to help turtles cross the roads if it is SAFE to do so. If you have had to pass a turtle or see an injured turtle that you cannot stop for because of road conditions and traffic, turn around at the nearest place available (even it it is kms down the road) because you may be able to help afterwards to retrieve it, if it has been injured. In this case, note the location and call the nearest wildlife rehabilitation centre or the Turtle Trauma Centre at 705-741-5000.
Be Turtley Cool - Drive Aware and Drive Defensively