Threats like habitat loss, predators, and vehicle collisions are causing turtles to disappear from the landscape at an alarming rate. All eight of Ontario’s turtle species are now at risk.
We’re seeking donations for our Turtle Protection Project. Every dollar raised will be used to fund turtle research and protection projects in provincial parks.
Why are Ontario turtles at risk?
First of all, we’re losing more adult turtles to traffic.
The sand and gravel on the sides of roads make for great turtle nesting conditions. It’s easy for the female turtles to dig into, and offers plenty of sunshine to keep the eggs warm.
But the risk of being hit by vehicles greatly increases for the adult turtles as they cross the road to lay their eggs, or to move between their favourite habitats.
Species survival depends on adult turtles producing lots of eggs over a very long lifetime, and turtles need between 8 and 25 years before they reach reproduction age.
A vehicle strike can be a devastating blow to the population due to turtles’ slow recovery rate.
Some groups of animals (think: rabbits) can adjust the amount of babies they produce when adults in the population are disappearing.
So when adult turtles are killed on the road year after year, their overall numbers start to drastically decline.
Second: it’s a tough journey for turtles hatchlings to reach adulthood
After laying their eggs, mother turtles leave their nests unattended and return to the water. The eggs are often dug up and eaten by animals like raccoons, foxes, and skunks.
Even after they hatch, these tiny turtle babies face a long and perilous trek to the water.
Just factoring natural predators and risks, it’s estimated that less than 2% of turtle hatchlings survive into adulthood.
When we add in threats like habitat loss and perilous road crossings, it’s no wonder turtles need our help.
So how does Ontario Parks protect turtles?
Nest coverings are used in many provincial parks, and have helped successfully protect batches of eggs from predators until they hatch.
Ontario Parks hosts important turtle research projects, including tracking the survival of Blandings and Wood Turtle hatchlings using radio telemetry.
Other parks have installed ecopassages (wildlife crossings) or turtle fencing at key crossing areas to reduce turtle road mortality.
Ontario Parks staff and researchers have also been using artificial nesting mounds in Algonquin and Presqu’ile provincial parks to provide turtles with safe places to lay their eggs.
And, of course, all Ontario Parks staff watch for road-crossing adults and emerging nestlings, and help them through busy areas of the park.
The Turtle Protection Project: we need your help
We want to do more for turtles.
Your donation has the power to help us create on-the-ground solutions — like nest coverings and wildlife crossings — and will help us conduct research to protect turtles across Ontario Parks.
We’ve started some of this work. But with your help, we can greatly expand our capabilities and impact in our parks.
How to donate:
Ready to join our turtle protection team?
Call 705-313-2462 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to support our turtles with a donation today!
We’ll keep you informed via an email update about the projects your donation will make possible this spring.
Gifts that do good: Available in the Ontario Parks store!
Shop the Turtle Protection Collection online to support on-the-ground work!
With over $95,000 raised so far, funding is already being used by several turtle protection projects across our parks.