Mark Clairmont | MuskokaTODAY.com
BRACEBRIDGE — If you’re out for a walk — or drive — this month, watch for turtles.
June is the highest nesting season for turtles and when they are most likely near roads.
And why should you care about these old slow pokes?
Because turtles are the best vacuum cleaners of our lakes and ponds. They remove harmful bacteria from water which benefits us and all other fish and animals that depend on fresh water.
Turtles can live a very long time, but, for instance, it takes about 60 years for one snapping turtle to replace itself in the environment – and snapping turtles lay the most eggs.
Turtle populations in Ontario, are plummeting due to road mortality and habitat loss.
But you can’t live so long without making friends.
And the turtle’s best human friends now are the Turtle Guardians.
They’ve named 2019 the year “Tartan Turtle.”
This weekend and next they’re hosting walks across Central Ontario to raise awareness, funding and hope, says Leora Berman, COO, Turtle Guardians & The Land Between Kids and Communities helping turtles — in Ontario’s turtle country.
Turtle Guardians is a program of The Land Between and our collaborative partners
If you want to help, an easy and fun way to get involved is to take part in this year’s Turtle Walks.
They are hosted Saturday June 8 in Haliburton, Bancroft, Peterborough, and Orono; and on Saturday June 15 in Bracebridge, Fenelon Falls, Lindsay and Foxboro.
Each year the walks have a theme, and this year they are honoring the highlands, as the year of the Tartan Turtle.
Prizes for the best costume (turtle-y or tartan-y), best signs, for answering skill-testing questions at the walks, and for the best fundraisers are awarded. Crafts, live turtles, and in some areas bagpipers, too, will be at the walks.
The OPP and local police services have generously agreed to chaperone the walks. Register for a walk at www.turtlewalk.ca (poster attached)
The walks are part of the Turtle Guardians program.
Turtle Guardians have been at schools across the region, to promote the walks and to talk turtle, too.
Turtle talks will outline what threats facing our native turtles and how to identify turtles.
They will also be bringing live turtles into the schools in hopes of recruiting kids and families to walk.
But mostly to become Turtle Guardians.
Guardians are on-the-ground eyes that look out for turtles and report sightings.
Becoming a Guardian is fun and is free.
As of May 1, Guardians and the public can report sightings using our new user-friendly app.
Reporting a turtle sighting in just 4 clicks, helps biologist understand where to put crossing signs, install turtle tunnels and also helps scientists estimate population trends, including which habitats need protection.
Turtle Guardians is a collaborative program across south central Ontario, with 10 key partners.
The aim of the program is to recover turtle populations and recruit next generations to get in touch with nature and become “citizen scientists.”
The program is supported by the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Become a turtle guardian by registering online at www.turtleguardians.ca
You celp by adding the walk events to your listings or by passing this message along to other concerned Canadian conservationists young and old.
For more information on turtles and the walks, go to www.turtleguardians.ca
Or your can call 705-457-4838 or email firstname.lastname@example.org