Since they can't exactly sprint away when vehicles approach them on roadways, it's important for drivers to be on the lookout for the shelled creatures. A number of Ontario turtle populations are already under stress due to wetland loss — road mortality is putting even more species at risk.
According to the Ministry of Natural Resources, spring and summer are busy times for turtles on roadways. Many of the critters trying to cross the road are females, wandering away from water in search of nesting areas. Some even try to nest on gravel roads or shoulders of paved roads.
Drivers are asked to be on the lookout for turtles, especially when travelling on roads close to wetlands and rivers. If it's safe to do so, drivers can help turtles move off the road in the direction the animal is already headed, or toward the better and wetter habitat.
“Most turtles can be easily handled, but if in doubt, a shovel or stick may be gently used to encourage the turtle off the road,” the MNR stated. “Moving snapping turtles by hand is not recommended, as they may attempt to bite in defence.”
Local animal lover Stacey Newell has offered her assistance to a few road warriors already this year. She spotted one that looked dead, but opted to stop anyway.
Good thing she did.
“I went and looked and he was still alive, even with his shell cracked like a watermelon,” she said.
On another occasion, she came across one on the Highway 17 bypass that had been killed.
“The ravens were picking at it — it looked like someone ran right over its neck,” she said.
Days later, she was still bothered by the sight. Others have expressed their concern for drivers who lack of regard for turtles on roadways through social media in recent days.
“Drivers who swerve to hit and smash turtles on the road make me sick,” a tweet read.
Newell agreed. “(Drivers) need to take responsibility and respect the wildlife by paying attention and not speeding,” she said. “Almost everyone can see and miss
a turtle on the road — no need to hit one.”
- There are eight species of turtles in Ontario — seven of which are considered “species at risk,” according to the province's Endangered Species Act
- Turtles can live 90 years or more
- Some turtles don't start laying eggs until they are at least 20 years old — only a small number of those eggs will survive until adulthood
Posted by Arron Pickard