Earlier today (June 15), Kawartha Land Trust (KLT) and the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre (OTCC) joined forces to release more than two dozen snapping turtle hatchlings in one of the wetlands alongside KLT’s Stony Lake Trails in North Kawartha.
KLT Executive Director Mike Hendren welcomed donors and volunteers from both OTCC and KLT who attended the release event, before hiking down the trail to release the turtles at KLT’s newest protected property, the Jeffrey-Cowan Forest Preserve.
KLT now protects 14 properties comprising of over 3,355 acres of important and diverse types of land in the Kawarthas.
The Jeffrey-Cowan site includes 146 acres of protected land with scenic views, world class trails, and 1,300 feet of significant shoreline. The property is at the eastern extent of KLT’s Stony Lake Trails, a 10-kiometre trail network on the north shore of Stony Lake.
The released turtles were hatched from eggs recovered from an injured female snapping turtle brought to OTCC last fall for care. The centre admits injured or ill turtles from all over Ontario, and returns them to their native wetland when they have recovered.
Almost 1,000 turtles were admitted to OTCC last year, with around half of them being females who were injured while on their way to lay eggs.
When the females come in to the centre, the eggs are collected so the hatchlings are not lost. Because turtles take a long time to heal, the females would not be able to be released in time to lay these eggs. The centre incubated around 3,700 eggs in 2017.
Dr. Sue Carstairs, OTCC’s Executive and Medical Director, says the hatchlings are either released the same season or — as in the case of the hatchlings released today — kept over the winter and released the following summer. This way, even if the female does not survive, her offspring do have a chance of replacing her in the population.
“Habitat loss in one of the greatest threats to biodiversity,” she said. “We are grateful for organizations like the Kawartha Land Trust who are dedicated to protecting land for conservation
“By protecting more land, we can help ensure that turtles and other wildlife will have a safe home for years to come.”
Less than one per cent of eggs and hatchlings in the wild survive, so releasing them at the Jeffrey-Cowan Forest Preserve greatly increases their chance of survival.
For more information about KLT — including upcoming events, property profiles, trail maps, donation options, or volunteer opportunities — visit kawarthalandtrust.org.
For more information about OTCC, visit ontarioturtle.ca.