Stewardship Spotlight: Jennifer Howard’s Mission for more Turtle Crossing Signs

Jennifer Howard

Turtle Tallier Jennifer Howard

Check out this wonderful article about Adopt-A-Pond’s long time Turtle Tallier Jennifer Howard and Innisfil’s celebrity snapping turtle, Gilfred!

Gilfred lives in the deep ditches and creeks along Gilford Road near Cook’s Bay. Every summer she makes her way to the soft, sandy shoulders of the road to lay her eggs.

It’s a ritual residents in the area have come to enjoy and respect. She’s become an unofficial mascot for the village.

When Gilfred crosses the road, it can take some time; after all, she’s a snapping turtle! To help make sure Gilfred isn’t run over, residents asked the Town of Innisfil to have turtle crossing signs erected in areas where turtles frequently cross.Crossing1L

You can thank Jennifer Howard and her son, Jeff, for the growing number of turtle crossing signs that are popping up around town.

“It has been an adventure. It was a long haul, but well worth it,” Howard said.

There are now seven sets of turtle crossing signs around town, including one in Gilford that is used by Gilfred the snapper.

Howard and her son had the first turtle signs erected in Big Bay Point in 2009 with the help of Kids for Turtles.

“These turtle crossing signs are working! People are paying more attention. Like with Gilfred the snapper, who gets watched for every spring and helped across the road,” Howard said.

As fall approaches, tiny hatchlings will be born and turtles will once again be making their way across roadways looking for safe wetlands.

“Innisfil is now on the map for turtle crossing signage. More and more people noticing turtles and calling me with reports,” Howard said. “When I get a few reports on an area we get signs up.”

Innisfil’s roads department has been amazing by putting the signs up quickly, she added.

Howard said it is important protect turtles because, like snakes and frogs, they are essential to wetland ecosystems.

She encourages people to take injured turtles to the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Center.

Turtles need to be anywhere from 12 to 25 years old before they can breed depending on the species, Howard said. Females who are hit and killed by a car are not easily replaced.

“Now monitoring turtles is part of my life. And with the help of Innisfil’s road crew, more people can get on board and help to,” Howard said. “That is what it is all about. Working together. Nice signs Innisfil.”

Original article adapted from the Innisfil Journal, published by Rick Vanderline September 1st 2015. See original article HERE 

If you would like to install a crossing sign in your neighbourhood contact Adopt-A-Pond for the details.

Phone: 416-392-5999 or email: aap@torontozoo.ca

If you see a turtle anywhere in Ontario, remember to report your sighting to Ontario Turtle Tally. This citizen science programme collects turtle sightings from volunteers across the province. All the data we collect helps us and our conservation partners to identify where turtles live, and helps guide work to protect turtle habitat! Become a Turtle Tallier today!

Funding for Adopt-A-Pond Has Been Provided By:

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For more information about Toronto Zoo conservation programs visit: http://www.torontozoo.com/conservation/

AAP and TZ

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