Biologist Paul Heaven in green shows volunteers how to use the GPS units they will be provided as turtle monitors this May and June. He gave an overview of the study of turtle barrier systems to the group which will help determine if the piping put up near Gelert is effective in detering turtles from crossing the road. JENN WATT Staff

Turtle centre declares state of emergency

By Robert Mackenzie

Published July 4 2017

Ontario’s Turtle Conservation Centre  has declared a state of emergency for all turtles in the region as they’ve treated more than 500 injured turtles so far this year.

Donnell Gasbarrini turtle programs manager at centre says that increasing populations and changing weather patterns have contributed to the increase – the wet spring has flooded some nesting places where turtles had previously laid eggs. “With everything being so wet it might encourage turtles to move a little further” she said.

However Gasbarrini added that increased awareness has also had an effect on the growing number of turtles the centre has treated. “A lot more people know what to do when they come across an injured turtle than in the past” Gasbarrini said.

Last year from May to October the conservation centre treated 370 turtles. When they receive a turtle the centre assesses its injuries and determines the medication or treatment necessary. As they begin to heal the turtles are put in deeper and deeper water until they swim which is usually a sign that they are ready to go back in the wild according to Gasbarrini.

Gasbarrini says that most turtles the centre treats have been injured by vehicles. The Land Between a local conservation charity is launching a fundraising campaign to help save Ontario’s turtles from the dangers of the highway. Through the campaign the charity hopes to create 100 underpasses – tunnels underneath the highway that will prevent turtles from having to cross through traffic.

Along with this part of the money raised by the campaign will be given to the OTCC to fund fluids medications and the additional costs incurred by treating more turtles.

Gasbarrini says that if you see a turtle on the road you can help it by carrying it across in the direction that it was facing.