We’re doing it!
We’re helping more and more turtles in our provincial parks with the support of our incredible donors.
Over the past several months, we have collected donations for our Turtle Protection Projects across Ontario.
We are thrilled to report that many of these projects are well underway. Our park staff are working hard to protect and monitor nesting turtles and their hatchlings.
Why do turtles need our help?
Every spring, hundreds of female turtles travel far and wide in search of suitable nesting habitat to dig nests and lay eggs.
It just so happens that turtles see the sand and gravel found on the shoulders of roads as the perfect area to nest. Unfortunately, roadways don’t only provide travel corridors for vehicles and pedestrians, but also for predators of turtle eggs, such as raccoons, skunks, and foxes.
Most turtle nests are destroyed by predators within 12 hours and only 1% of turtle eggs will hatch and survive until adulthood.
Six different projects helping turtles across the province are already in motion. Here are some highlights:
Kawartha Highlands wants to give turtles a head start by protecting turtle nests along some of the park’s busiest roads. Turtle Protection Project donations enabled the park to purchase materials to build 50 turtle nest protection covers.
With the help of community scientists and park staff, we have been able to prevent seven turtle nests at this park from being destroyed so far this season. These turtle-lovers will track the nests to ensure the eggs hatch safely.
Balsam Lake Provincial Park is creating what they call “The Ultimate Turtle Paradise.”
Some of the work includes:
- restoring critical habitat
- providing sustainable nesting and basking sites in areas where they have been lost
- surveying the park’s road network for critical nesting locations
- creation of interpretive materials to engage with the public and communicate the actions underway to improve the health of local turtle populations
All of these initiatives have taken place prior to and during the 2021 nesting season which will help support the coming breeding cycle.
Samuel de Champlain staff are working to construct an artificial nesting site so turtles can have a safe home in an area where they are less likely to be disturbed.
You’ll notice the slight slope on the one side of the site. This faces south and was done purposefully to get as much sunlight as possible to help keep the turtle eggs toasty warm!
If you’ve ever visited Presqu’ile Provincial Park, you may have seen the mounds we already have in place.
Without realizing it, it’s common for turtles to dig up each other’s nests by accident. To prevent this from happening, the park is expanding the mounds already being used by turtles.
Ontario turtle species are drawn to roadsides and traverse over land in order to lay their eggs during breeding season.
At other times of the year, turtles may disperse to get to and from their winter hibernacula (hibernation sites).
Pinery’s project aims to raise awareness among park visitors that internal park roads are not immune to this threat. By placing signs around high traffic areas, users of the park can take responsibility to contribute towards turtle conservation.
At Grundy Lake, an educational display will highlight the turtle monitoring project and bring awareness to the turtle species and habitat found in the park.
This display will be located at an important nesting location in the park: the Pakeshkag Lake Trail. This trail, which will be opening later in 2021, was converted from a road in order to protect the turtles nesting along it.
This project is close to completion, just in time to help out these new turtle eggs!
Pick up some Turtle Protection Project merch
Some of our wonderful partners are donating a portion of products sold to make these turtle protection initiatives a reality:
- MapArt — donating $1 from every map sold
- Chilly Moose Ontario Parks Turtle Bottles — net proceeds from each water bottle sold
You can also pick up your very own Turtle Protection Project merchandise at park stores across the province.
When you’re exploring parks, don’t forget to stop in to get your own t-shirt, socks, or plush Blanding’s Turtle.
All proceeds go directly to this program!
Our work isn’t finished yet
Though we’re making progress, we have many projects that are still looking to be completed across our parks system.
If you would like to make a donation to support our Turtle Protection Project, please call 705-313-2462, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.