Turtle species across Ontario are under threat, and it’s up to us to save them
Turtle species across Ontario are facing multiple threats to their survival. The two biggest threats are habitat loss and road mortality.
Many of their habitats, like marshes and swamps, have been altered by humans.
“So, in terms of what we’re seeing, of course, in especially in the last four years, is land conversion at a rate that has been unprecedented without sufficient planning tools,” said Leora Berman, Chief operating officer for the conservation organization The Land Between.
The Land Between is a bioregion extending from Ottawa Valley to Georgian Bay. It is home to 1/3 of Ontario’s turtle population and has seven to eight of Ontario’s turtle species. The Land Between is the last refuge for many turtles.
“Over 70% of wetlands in southern Ontario have been lost over the past century. This has removed the required habitat for many turtles and many other species of wildlife,” said David Seburn, Freshwater Turtle Specialist at the Canadian Wildlife Federation.
Wetlands are crucial for the survival of turtles and other important species.
Sadly, southern Ontario has the highest density of roads, which results in turtles getting run over by cars. Road mortality, along with habitat loss and other factors, contributes to the 50% decline in Ontario’s turtles.
Experts say if we lose another 20% of snapping turtles, they could be extinct in twenty years.