Efforts to Save the Blanding Turtle
by Elaine Westerhof
The Peterborough County and North Kawartha Township enjoy a rich and diverse natural environment. As new residents to Chandos Lake, we enjoy spotting the turkey, grouse, water birds, deer and hearing the howls at night. On many occasions we have come to a full stop on County Road 504 to avoid a collision with the Blanding Turtle. The turtles are crossing at fairly well known marsh areas so we have come to look for them, but those first few meetings were a bit hair raising!
Unfortunately we see numerous killed Blanding Turtles; they are a threatened species in Ontario, https://www.ontario.ca/page/blandings-turtle. Sudden stops to avoid killing the turtles, by well-meaning drivers, could cause collisions of a different kind - being hit by oncoming traffic or traffic from the rear.
The ideal solution, during reconstruction of the roadway, is to install oversized culverts allowing free and unobstructed passage of the turtle under the roadway. The Peterborough County advised that the reconstruction of the 504 is not within the near future of the county’s capital projects. Would installation of Turtle warning signs, often seen in other jurisdictions, be a partial solution?
In February 2017 we reached out to Mayor Woodcock and Councillor O’Shea to ask if the North Kawartha Township would support the installation of two signs on County Rd. 504 warning of turtles crossing. At the March 7, 2017 council meeting the matter was presented and supported through motion M17-215 by Deputy Mayor Hutton and seconded by Councillor O’Shea. Since then things have really taken off. Mr. Scott Matheson, Roads Superintendent confirmed that through the cooperative efforts between Township and County, sign installation was on track. Then on April 26th CLPOA offered to financially support the installation of 4 additional signs.
There are numerous endangered and threatened species in the Township and this is a clear demonstration that everyone who lives and enjoys this area takes care in respecting the environment. A few other of our inhabitants could also do with our protection and care.
- The Five-lined Skink is Ontario’s only species of lizard, the Southern Shield habitat species found in the County, is a “Species of Concern”, in the Endangered Species Act 2007.
- The Eastern Hog-Nosed snake, is “Threatened”, in the Endangered Species Act 2007.
- The Eastern Musk Turtle is “Species of Concern”, in the Endangered Species Act 2007.
High praise and gratitude is extended to our North Kawartha Township elected officials and staff. They sought to support this request and protect the turtles and residents. Deep gratitude is extended towards CLPOA protecting and respecting this environment we share and enjoy.