This is the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) community turtles page.
Between August 27, 2021 and September 2, 2021 we are working with Huron Stewardship Council (HSC) on Local Turtle Week. Our content at the top of this page, during this week, is about #LocalTurtleWeek
For the following regular content, please scroll to the bottom of the page:
- Turtle Sighting Reporting Form
- What to do if you find a turtle on the road
- What to do if you find an injured turtle
- Turtle species
Local Turtle Week
Local Turtle Week returns in 2021
Turtle release event can’t be held in person during pandemic but August 27-September 2 week of online activities shares photos, videos of hatchlings, educates about habitat needed for turtles
Thousands of people have taken part in popular turtle release events in the area. Conservation groups are bringing back Local Turtle Week, a week of online education and at-home activities, for a second year. This is a fun way for people to learn about protecting Ontario’s freshwater turtles even though the turtle release event can’t take place in person in 2021 (as the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic continues).
Local Turtle Week takes place Friday, August 27 to Thursday, September 2.
During #LocalTurtleWeek Huron Stewardship Council (HSC), and community partners including Ausable Bayfield Conservation, are using photos, videos, and at-home activities to educate the public about turtles in 2021.
The local turtle week partners are to share photo and video posts on their social media channels and activities on their web pages including this turtle page that you're on!
Marcus Maddalena is Biologist and Stewardship Coordinator with the County of Huron. Even though large in-person events are not possible at this time he said Local Turtle Week is a great way to educate people about how to protect turtles and how to protect and enhance the wetlands and habitat needed for turtles to survive and thrive.
“We need to protect Ontario’s freshwater turtle species,” he said. “We also need to preserve and enhance wetlands and natural areas that provide habitat for turtles.”
You can help to protect turtles by helping them across the road, protecting nests from predators, enhancing their habitat through local tree planting and wetland restoration programs, and supporting community turtle monitoring programs. Turtles help to control aquatic vegetation and help to clean creeks and wetlands by eating algae and dead and decaying fish and other organisms.
“Turtles play an important role in our ecosystem and turtles are vital to our wetlands,” said Hope Brock, Healthy Watersheds Technician with Ausable Bayfield Conservation. “We need to preserve and enhance our wetlands and plant native trees and shrubs and protect and grow the natural areas that sustain turtle species.”
The turtle release event was held locally, near Exeter, for four years reaching record attendance of 1,500 people in its last year (2019) as an in-person event. Since then, the turtle education activity has been transformed into an online week of photos, videos, social media posts, and at-home activities.
Ontario’s native freshwater turtles face many threats including habitat loss and road mortality (death by cars and other vehicles). Hundreds of turtles in Ontario are hit by cars each year in the spring, summer, and autumn. These could be gravid (pregnant) females looking for a place to lay eggs, or males and females looking for new ponds and mates.
People can help turtles by creating nesting habitat on their properties, stopping to help turtles cross the road in the direction they are heading (when it is safe to do so), and working with their local municipalities and communities to erect turtle crossing signs and build safe passages. People can also arrange for transport of injured turtles to the turtle hospital. People can also act to protect, create, and enhance the natural areas that provide the habitat for turtle hatchlings to eat, drink, reproduce, and grow and become the adult turtles of tomorrow.
Local Turtle Week Colouring Contest deadline extended until September 7, 2021
Enter our #LocalTurtleWeek colouring contest for a chance to win a draw prize!
We have turtle prize packs for the winners! The turtle prize packs include a National Geographic Turtles book.
Colouring Contest Rules
Here are the simple rules for entering your turtle colouring into our contest to be entered into a draw for a prize:
At that web page, download one of the following colouring pages to colour:
- Wood Turtle (JPEG file)
- Blanding's Turtle (JPEG file)
- Eastern Box Turtle (JPEG file)
- Eastern Painted Turtle (JPEG file)
Then, colour the turtle!
Once you have coloured the turtle art, simply post an image of the coloured artwork (as a comment on one of our #LocalTurtleWeek social media posts) to a Huron Stewardship Council or Ausable Bayfield Conservation social media platform (such as Facebook) using the hashtag #LocalTurtleWeek
- Huron Stewardship Council Facebook Page
- Ausable Bayfield Conservation Facebook Page
- Ausable Bayfield Conservation Twitter Feed
All submissions must be posted by (NEW DEADLINE!) Tuesday, September 7, 2021.
By posting the artwork you are agreeing to our use and sharing of the finished coloured drawing and names and agreeing to sharing and use of names of artists, including minors, for announcement of draw prizes and for other promotion.
Please post the artwork only if you are a parent or guardian legally able to grant this permission.
Thanks for entering the contest!
Local Turtle Week (2021) Posts
Here are the themes and posts for 2021 #LocalTurtleWeek:
Thursday, August 26, 2021 - INTRODUCTION TO LOCAL TURTLE WEEK
It's back! Local Turtle Week returns for a second year. Learn more: https://www.abca.ca/post/?ID=1211 #LocalTurtleWeek begins August 27 and continues to September 2.
Meet Marcus Maddalena, Biologist and Stewardship Coordinator with the County of Huron. Marcus introduces us to Local Turtle Week, which returns in 2021 and runs from August 27 to September 2. Watch the video now: https://youtu.be/z-L-lLH9LfE #LocalTurtleWeek
Friday, August 27, 2021 – DAY ONE
Theme: The Importance of Turtles
Turtles have been around since the age of dinosaurs but they face an uncertain future. These omnivores play an important ecosystem role. They help keep our aquatic environments in balance and protect water quality. Learn more: https://www.abca.ca/post/?ID=1213 #LocalTurtleWeek
You could win a National Geographic Kids Turtles book prize pack in a draw by entering the #LocalTurtleWeek colouring contest. To learn more visit: https://www.abca.ca/community/turtles/
Local Turtle Week starts today! (August 27). In this #LocalTurtleWeek video Cristen Watt, of Huron Stewardship Council, tells of their work and the need to preserve and enhance habitat such as wetlands that turtles need to survive. Watch the video now: https://youtu.be/3R2_ABBbAVw
Saturday, August 28, 2021 – DAY TWO
Theme: Threats facing turtles
Turtles have thick skin and hard shells but face many threats such as habitat loss and fragmentation. Without wetlands and natural areas turtles have no home. Learn of the threats turtles face and how you can help. Find out more: https://www.abca.ca/post/?ID=1214 #LocalTurtleWeek
Meet Cory Trowbridge, Species at Risk Technician with Huron Stewardship Council. Cory tells us about himself, challenges in his work, and why it helps to learn the eight different species of Ontario freshwater turtles. Enjoy the video: https://youtu.be/KxgSsfoKSRc #LocalTurtleWeek
Sunday, August 29, 2021 – DAY THREE
Theme: Importance of wetlands for turtles
Turtles need wetlands but we have lost more than 70% of original wetland cover. Turtle population decline and wetland loss have gone hand in hand. Learn why turtles need wetlands and why we need to preserve and enhance them. Find out more: https://www.abca.ca/post/?ID=1215 #LocalTurtleWeek
Monday, August 30, 2021 – DAY FOUR
Theme: Building and/or improving/enhancing turtle habitat
If you have turtle habitat on your property you can help turtles by preserving it. You can also enhance turtle habitat on your property. Learn how: https://www.abca.ca/post/?ID=1216 #LocalTurtleWeek
It's Day Four of Local Turtle Week! Enter our colouring contest. Maybe win a draw prize! Visit Matt Patterson Stoneridge Art Studios at https://www.mpattersonart.com/new-page Download art, colour it, then post it here with #LocalTurtleWeek hashtag. Full contest rules at:
Tuesday, August 31, 2021 – DAY FIVE
Theme: Nesting and Incubation
Wednesday, September 1, 2021 – DAY SIX
Thursday, September 2, 2021 – DAY SEVEN
Theme: Release of turtle hatchlings
#Local Turtle Week
Ten Days of Turtle Facts
All those who completed a turtle quiz, through a survey link posted at abca.ca, were entered in a draw for one of two turtle prize packs.
The winner was announced on World Turtle Day.
Congratulations to our winners!
Here are some facts about our amazing and precious Ontario freshwater turtles (for original posts please visit our Facebook page or Twitter feed - just click the social media icons at the top of the home page):
- Ten Days of Turtle Facts! There is a quiz and draw contest for turtle pack prizes and daily posts to learn about how to protect our Ontario turtles and why we need to protect them.
- All eight species of freshwater turtles in Ontario are species at risk. This means these animals could disappear if we don’t change our actions. To learn more about Ontario’s turtle species, visit https://ontarionature.org/…/reptile-amphibian-atlas/species/ #WorldTurtleDay
- Some turtles can hide in their shells. This protects them from predators. Snapping turtles have a small plastron which provides no protection. This causes this turtle to be ‘snappy,’ defending itself on land. #WorldTurtleDay Learn more, enter quiz draw at abca.ca
- Take our short turtle quiz now to be entered in a free draw. The quiz is only five questions, all multiple choice! How easy is that? To take the short quiz, for a chance to win one of two turtle prize packs, visit this page now: https://www.abca.ca/community/turtles/ #WorldTurtleDay"
- Turtles are ectotherms or cold-blooded. This means they can’t regulate their own body temperature. They rely on their environment. To warm up, turtles must find a sunny place to bask, such as a log. To cool down, turtles dive down into the water and bury themselves in the mud.
- Turtles have lungs. Turtles breathe air. In hibernation, when turtles are underwater, turtles breathe through their back end (cloaca). This opening is for excretion and laying eggs. It has lots of blood vessels to allow the turtle to take up oxygen as water flows past.
- Snapping turtles are one of the largest of the eight Ontario turtle species. Their shell can grow up to 50 cm long. Snapping turtles are omnivores. 90% of their diet is dead plants and animals. For this reason Snapping turtles are important in keeping lakes and wetlands clean.
- Painted turtle hatchlings have a super-cool ability. They hatch in autumn and emerge right away or stay in the nest underground until spring. Special proteins in their blood act like antifreeze. This allows them to survive harsh winter and climb out of their nest in spring.
- Road mortality is a threat to Ontario turtles. Drive carefully especially near wildlife crossing signs. Turtles are on the road between April and November, and especially during June. For safely moving a turtle across the road, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lgd_B6iKPxU #WorldTurtleDay
- Ontario has a turtle hospital! Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre is a registered charity caring for native turtles. If you find an injured turtle call 1-705-741-5000. Volunteer as Turtle Taxi for occasional injured animal transport: https://ontarioturtle.ca/get-involved/volunteer #WorldTurtleDay
- Habitat loss is a threat to Ontario turtles. Turtles need rivers, lakes, ponds and wetlands. In southwestern Ontario we have lost 70 per cent of these wetlands. Protect natural spaces. Consider enhancing wetland habitat. Learn more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ah2Nx2kwhEs #WorldTurtleDay
- Turtles are long-lived, but mature slowly. Hatchling survival is very low. Less than 1% survive to be adults. A female Snapping turtle must lay many eggs to replace herself. Each reproducing adult is vital. Donate to help turtles: https://www.abca.ca/foundation/donate/ #WorldTurtleDay
- Happy World Turtle Day! https://www.abca.ca/community/turtles/ #WorldTurtleDay
Thanks to everyone who completed the quiz.
Our watershed community told us to ... protect turtles!
People in your watershed community met for a year to develop the Conservation Strategy.
They said Ausable Bayfield Conservation and our community partners should protect water, soil, and habitat for living things ... such as turtles.
Turtle Sighting Reporting Form
Ausable Bayfield Conservation would like to hear about your turtle sightings.
Here is the link to the turtle reporting form:
Thanks for having reported turtle nests
A big thank you to all the people who reported turtle nests to us this year, especially to volunteers Chris and Gail Hills, who took time to construct several nest protection cages. Thank you all for protecting Ontario's freshwater turtles!
The Importance of Protecting Turtles
Ontario’s freshwater turtles play an important role in local ecosystems.
These important reptiles face numerous threats in Canada and around the world, according to Ausable Bayfield Conservation. “Local turtle populations can be affected by the loss of even one adult turtle,” said Hope Brock, Healthy Watersheds Technician with Ausable Bayfield Conservation.
The Port Franks Community Turtle Monitoring Program has been taking place for more than half a decade.
“Local people help to let us know about the turtles they see and we are very thankful for that,” Hope said. “When we know how many turtles there are and what habitat they are using, it helps in our work to protect them and preserve their vital role in local watercourses.”
The local ecological system of water and land depends on having diverse animals that each play a role to keep that system healthy. The turtle is a vital part of that ecosystem. Turtles help to control aquatic vegetation. Turtles serve as scavengers. This means they help clean our creeks and wetlands by eating dead and decaying fish and other organisms.
Ontario turtle numbers are going down. Some of Ontario’s turtles are species at risk under the Ontario Endangered Species Act, 2007 and the federal Species at Risk Act.
The likelihood of offspring survival in turtles is very low, which means that a female turtle will have to lay many eggs over the course of her life for just one of her offspring to survive. Turtle numbers are in decline because of factors such as death on roadways, decline in habitat, slow rates of reproduction, and eating of eggs (predation) by predators such as raccoons or skunks.
The important role that turtles play, and the worrisome decline in turtle numbers, make the local Port Franks Area Community Turtle Monitoring Program very important, according to Hope.
Turtle monitoring workshops have been held with the support of Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation (ABCF) and Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) and other generous partners.
Ontario has eight native turtle species. All eight of these species can be found in Ausable Bayfield Conservation watersheds. These species are as follows:
- Blanding’s Turtle (Emydoidea blandingii)
- Eastern Musk Turtle (Stinkpot) (Sternotherus odoratus)
- Midland Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta marginata)
- Northern Map Turtle (Graptemys geographica)
- Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)
- Spiny Softshell Turtle (Apalone spinifera)
- Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata)
- Wood Turtle (Glyptemys insculpta)
For more information on these turtle species, please visit the Ontario Nature Reptiles and Amphibians web page:
What to do if you find a turtle on the road
Female turtles need to leave the water to lay their eggs on dry ground. They typically do this from late May to early July. They often need to cross roads to get to suitable nesting areas. Sometimes they may even nest on the sides of roads.
If you find a turtle on the road, please help it across safely (only if it is safe for you to do so). Always move the turtle in the direction that it is heading.
Most turtles can be picked up carefully with two hands. When handling Snapping Turtles keep a safe distance from their head as they will snap at you if they feel threatened. You can grab the back of the shell and gently drag it across the road. Or, you may want to use a shovel, blanket, or car mat to move the turtle. Never pick up a turtle by the tail as this could damage its spine.
What to do if you find an injured turtle
- Carefully place the injured turtle in a box or well-ventilated plastic container with a secure lid (turtles can climb!)
Most turtles can be picked up carefully with two hands.
When handling Snapping Turtles keep a safe distance from their head as they will snap at you if they feel threatened. You may want to use a shovel or board to lift the turtle.
Note the location (road and major intersections) where the turtle was found to ensure it can be released according to provincial regulations.
Do not transport turtles in water. Do not offer the turtle anything to eat.
Take the turtle to:
- Salthaven Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, P.O. Box 601, Mt Brydges, ON, NOL 1WO • 519-264-2440
- Turtle Haven, 114 Mansion Street Kitchener, ON, N2H 2J9 • 519-745-4334
- Georgian Bay Turtle Hospital-Oro-Medonte, ON, L3V 6H1
- Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre, 1434 Chemong Road 4, Peterborough, ON, K9J 6X2 • 705-741-5000
- Toronto Wildlife Centre, 60 Carl Hall Road, Toronto, ON, M3K 2C1 • 416-631-0662
- Heaven’s Wildlife Rescue, Oil Springs, 519-466-6636.
Volunteer couriers may be able to drive the turtle to a rehabilitation centre if you cannot. Please call first.
Even if the turtle cannot be saved, wildlife rehabilitation staff may be able to save the eggs inside her!
The local ecological system depends on having diverse animals that each play a role to keep that system healthy. The turtle is a vital part of that eco-system. Turtles help to control aquatic vegetation. Turtles serve as scavengers. This means they help clean our creeks and wetlands by eating dead and decaying fish and other organisms.
It takes a long time for most turtles to reach maturity. Mature turtles may live a long time but turtles reproduce at a low rate. Any time a mother turtle dies, or any adult turtle dies, there is an impact on the future of the species. A Snapping Turtle would have to lay about 1,400 eggs in her lifetime, on average, in order for just one of her offspring to survive to adulthood. Saving even one adult by safely moving it across the road can help to conserve that species.