June is all About Turtle Crossing Signs and Helping Turtles Cross the Road
Amphibians and reptiles come in all shapes and sizes. After a very long winter, these creatures are back in full view in our wetlands, woods, and gardens. These little creatures are an important part of our ecosystem, and protecting them and their habitat is critical to the health of the natural spaces we share. Unfortunately every year thousands of amphibians and reptiles are killed on our roads.
Installing turtle road crossing signs, such as the ones created by Adopt-A-Pond, are a great way to highlight turtle mortality hotspots, and hopefully encourage drivers to slowdown and lookout for turtles! These signs are unique with a giant painter turtle painted on a bright yellow reflective background; however, this interesting look makes them a big target to thieves. Jennifer Howard, a turtle enthusiast, knows firsthand about how frustrating it is to deal with these stolen sings. So far she has replaced crossing signs twice in an area where turtles cross in abundance, and fears the same fate for 2 new signs going up in another turtle sensitive area.
Jenifer is thankful she has community members in her corner. Adora at the township office, James and Thomas of the Innisfil roads dept,, individuals who helped replace the missing signs quickly and are communicative to let Jenifer know when they are back up helping save turtles.
South Simcoe police Staff Sergeant Steve Wilson gives a word of warning for thieves thinking about steeling these signs:
Stealing signs is an offence. The applicable section falls under the Criminal Code of Canada. Theft under$5,000. The Criminal Code of Canada provides us with a range of sentences for theft cases depending on the value of the stolen item(s). Theft Under $5,000 is a hybrid offence, meaning the prosecutor can elect to proceed summarily or by indictment. Theft Over $5,000 is a straight indictable offence with a maximum penalty of ten years in prison.
Adopted form Jennifer Howard submission to Adopt-A-Pond. Thank you again Jennifer for all your great work!
Helping a Turtle on the Road
Small turtles can be picked up easily by holding both sides of the shell with your thumb on top of the turtle’s carapace (upper shell) and your fingers on the bottom of the turtle’s plastron (belly shell). Hold the turtle’s belly away from you because frightened turtles may scratch and some will pee when they are scared.
Snapping turtles are the exception – they will try to snap at you and scare you away and can reach their head to their back legs so it’s not a great idea to pick them up. Move a snapping turtle by placing a shovel, plywood or car floor mat under the turtles and dragging it to the other side of the road. Or you can get the snapping turtles to bit onto a stick and dragged it across the road.
Carry the turtle close to the ground, it may claw and squirm when picked up and you don’t want it to fall very far if it wiggles out of your hands. Be sure to move the turtle to the other side of the road in the direction that it was headed; otherwise it will turn around and try to get there on its own again.
To see examples on how to move a Snapping turtle, check out our short video here!
Helping an Injured Turtle
If you stop for a turtle and find that it is injured, there are a number of wildlife rehabilitators that will take it in and fix it up. A list of these can be found at the bottom of this page. You are legally allowed to have a turtle for 24 hours while it is in transit to a licensed rehabilitator. Remember that the turtle may have internal injuries that are not yet apparent, so handle with care during transport. Keep the car radio low and take care turning while driving to reduce stress to the turtle. During this time keep the turtle dry and warm. Do not place it in water or offer it anything to drink or eat. The turtle should be kept at room temperature, around 18-22 degrees Celsius.
If you are planning on taking a turtle to a rehabilitator, be sure to call them first. Many of these locations function only with volunteer staff and may not be available if you show up unexpectedly. Your call will also give them a chance to let their veterinarians know that a turtle is coming in. Be sure to record the location where the turtle was found so it can be released back into its home once it recovers.
What you need to take an injured turtle to a wildlife rehabilitator:
For a small turtle: – A small container/ bucket/ cooler that the turtle can be placed into . 1′ long is big enough . This should be opaque and not clear so that the turtle feels secure . You should drill air holes in the top to ensure adequate ventilation . Avoid cardboard boxes, they can get soggy and rip – A towel that can be placed in the box so that the turtle does not slide around while you are driving
For a Snapping Turtle: – A large container/ bucket/ cooler that the turtle can be placed into . 2′ long is big enough . This should be opaque and not clear so that the turtle feels secure . You should drill air holes in the top to ensure adequate ventilation – A towel that can be placed in the box so that the turtle does not slide around while you are driving – Duct Tape to secure the lid of the container
Contact these locations for more information on local rescue centres in your area:
The Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre C/O Riverview Park And Zoo 8am – 4pm, Monday to Sunday 1230 Water Street North Peterborough, ON Tel: (705) 748-9301 ext. 2320 http://www.kawarthaturtle.org
Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre Inc. 8749 County Rd 2, Napanee, ON, Tel: (613) 354-0264 ww.sandypineswildlife.org
Toronto Wildlife Centre 9am – 6pm, 365 Days a Year 60 Carl Hall Rd., Unit 4 Toronto, ON Hotline: (416) 631-0662 http://www.torontowildlifecentre.com
Leeds & Grenville OSPCA 800 Centennial Rd., Brockville, ON Tel: (613) 345-5520 firstname.lastname@example.org
Wild At Heart Wildlife Refuge Centre 95 White Rd., Lively, ON, Tel: (705) 692-4478 http://www.wahrefugecentre.org
Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary North Gower, ON Tel: (613) 258-9480 http://www.rideauwildlife.org
Also to help us keep track of turtles population report any sightings of turtles you see in Ontario to Turtle Tally! Your data is important for research and will be used to determine areas where conservation can help turtle populations!