The Turtle Protection Project

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.

turtle near road

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.

Turtles can’t.

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

Painted turtle on a log

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.

painted turtle in sand

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.

turtle
Turtle hatchling in coverage

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.

Ecopassage fencing
The fencing encourages small creatures — like turtles — to follow the road until they find the ecopassage

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.

snapping turtle
Emily Provincial Park’s Snapping Turtle Spike plays a vital role in educating visitors on the importance of turtles in our waterways and helps demonstrate how to safely move turtles across the road during nesting season

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.

hand holding small turtle

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 opdonations@ontario.ca 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.

Holiday shopping and want to spread a little extra cheer?

Some of our wonderful partners are donating a portion of products sold to the Turtle Protection Project:

  • MapArt (donating $1 from every map sold)
  • TripShed (donating 1% of all profits)
  • Outdoorsy (donated $130 for every RV listing or reservation)

With nearly $5,000 raised so far, we’re on our way to funding several projects across our parks.

Please make your donation today. Thank you.