Central Lake Ontario Conservation (CLOCA) and their partner municipalities would like to express sincere thanks to the dedicated volunteers of the Durham Woodworking Club, for helping them get up close and personal with turtles in Durham Region’s coastal wetlands.
This partnership involved CLOCA supplying the materials and the Durham Woodworking Club members providing carpentry expertise, design, prototype development and over 100 hours of their time to build turtle monitoring boxes. These boxes are one more tool in the tool box to support the Integrated Watershed Monitoring Program, delivered by CLOCA each year in local watersheds.
“We collect data on aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, wildlife, coastal wetlands and water quality in creeks and groundwater,” says Dan Moore, Aquatic Biologist for CLOCA. “The turtle boxes are designed specifically to support our Durham Region Coastal Wetland Monitoring Program.” The boxes will improve their understanding of turtle populations in the coastal wetlands, located along the Lake Ontario shoreline. Of Ontario’s eight native turtle species, all are considered Species At Risk. CLOCA’s focus will be primarily on two of the more common turtle species, Midland Painted and Snapping Turtles, but they will be looking for the less common Blanding’s and Map Turtles as well.
The boxes were installed in local wetlands last week. The boxes act as a basking site for turtles with an opening that leads the turtle into an underwater enclosure once they have warmed themselves. Here, they are free to swim and feed, until the daily box checks by monitoring staff. Once the turtles are marked and assessed, they are released. The marking program will help when turtles are recaptured in future monitoring efforts and also when the turtles are observed naturally using their wetland and adjacent upland habitat. Upon the completion of monitoring efforts each year, the nets will be removed, and the boxes will continue to offer basking sites. “Based on the results of data collected, we look forward to future restoration activities and habitat enhancements, to ensure long-term survival of turtle populations in local wetlands,” notes Mr. Moore.
Everyone can do their part to help turtles, by watching for them when driving or assisting them if they are trying to cross a road or trail. Always help them travel in the direction they are heading, even if the wetland is behind them. Females often leave their home wetland in June, and travel up to a kilometre away to lay their eggs, often, unfortunately on road shoulders.
Central Lake Ontario Conservation offers nesting protection structures, and if you happen to find an injured turtle, check out the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre website, at https://ontarioturtle.ca for information about their rehabilitation programs.
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