A not so happy World Turtle Day: All Ontario turtles are now at risk
Juvenile Midland Painted Turtles – Patrick Muldowan photo
From Lisa Richardson Ontario Nature
Today is World Turtle Day. Take a moment to reflect on the midland painted turtle. The colourful reptile is a familiar sight along shorelines and in ponds throughout southern Ontario, but it is now in trouble.
In April 2018, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada designated the midland painted turtle as Special Concern. This means that all of Ontario’s eight turtle species are now at risk of disappearing from the province. Painted turtles are a mainstay of many people’s outdoor summer experiences. It is a widespread species that I used to see everywhere and now it is in decline.
Reptiles, including painted turtles, account for a large portion of the animals killed on Ontario’s roadways each year. Nesting females are particularly vulnerable to road mortality because they lay their eggs in the soft roadside shoulders. Add to that the historical loss of more than 70 percent of southern Ontario’s wetlands and it is not hard to see why the midland painted turtle is now at risk.
But there is hope. You can help reduce turtle road mortality by driving with caution and watching for wildlife-crossing signs along roadways. You can also submit your turtle sightings to the Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas. We use data from the atlas to monitor turtle populations across the province and to develop conservation strategies for individual species.
So, celebrate World Turtle Day by driving carefully and helping us learn more about these quintessential summer creatures.