Help to End the Snapping Turtle Hunt in Ontario

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End the Snapping Turtle Hunt in Ontario

With its’ serrated shell and dinosaur-like tail, snapping turtles are one of Ontario’s most distinctive – and misunderstood native turtle species. Despite the fact that they are listed as a Species at Risk, and that it goes against the Endangered Species Act (2007) which aims to protect and promote the recovery of SAR, it is still legal to trap and hunt these creatures. Until recently, the snapping turtle hunt in Ontario was completely unregulated. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (OMNRF) is proposing amendments to the current snapping turtle hunt guidelines which includes stricter limits and timing windows, but many conservation biologists and specialists say that the removal of even small numbers of mature snapping turtles can have a catastrophic effect on the overall success of local populations.

Every Adult Counts

Snapping turtles have some very distinctive life cycle traits which make each and every individual which reaches adulthood important to the reproductive success of the population. Firstly, these turtles are late bloomers and can take nearly 20 years until they are able to reproduce. They also have exceptionally low egg and juvenile survival rates due to predation, road mortality, habitat loss and poaching; less than 1% of all eggs in a clutch will hatch and eventually reach sexual maturity. These traits mean that it takes decades to replace adults lost from an area.

Currently, hunting snapping turtles is illegal in all provinces except Ontario and Saskatchewan and we need to follow suit. If you would like to help protect Ontario’s snapping turtles and agree that we should completely ban the hunt of this species at risk, the provincial government is currently accepting public comments on its’ proposed Management Plan. Comments submitted before January 30th will be considered in the review process by the Ministry. Comments, questions and even personal anecdotes that show why you care about the protection of snapping turtles will go a long way to show the Ministry that we want to end this practice once and for all.

To submit a comment or for more information, see this submission form and article by Ontario Nature.

To read more about the current regulations and restrictions in place, and to see the proposed amendments on the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry, see EBR#012-9170 and EBR#012-9169.

growth-rate-infographic

Interesting infographic which compares the snapping turtles’ very slow reproduction and life cycle compared to other game species which are currently legal to hunt in Ontario. By year 17, bears, moose and white-tailed deer will have produced 25, 681 and 912 offspring, respectively, while the snapping turtle will have only just produced its’ first clutch of eggs. Out of that nest, it will take another 17-20 years before one of those eggs will successfully hatch, survive to maturity and produce its’ own clutch of eggs (Image courtesy of: OMNRF)

 

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