Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Snapping Turtles on the Road to Extinction

This is so sad. More evidence of man's inhumanity towards nature.

roads, people who speed,
kill many turtles
Snapping turtles are a species of special concern. The Ministry of Natural Resources permits anyone with a small game or fishing licence to kill up to two turtles a day.

Quebec and Nova Scotia have passed bans on hunting them. It is time Ontario did the same.

I am shocked.

What is killing them, other than those with a licence, is

  • habitat loss, pollution, road mortality, legal and illegal hunting. 
They should live 100 years and weigh up to 16 kg., the average is 36 cm (14").

My favourite one was Patch, who lived in our frog pond. He was eaten by a predator, I think Butch, our raccoon.




These critters live in Ontario's wetlands, but 70% of southern Ontario's wetlands have been lost.

These photos are a result of a July 20, 2009 canoe ride. It never moved a muscle.
Mother of all turtles – biggest I've ever seen!
Sunning her cold-blood on a rock in the early morning

See the algae – they primarily stay in the water
Looking at their fat tissue samples, researchers found that 75% of examined turtles had PCBs in their bodies, with another 14% having mercury.

If humans are catching them and eating them, they are at risk.

These critters are amazing. I've seen them all over in my Daycations across Ontario. From their little triangular noses peeking out at me from the lake, they check you out and take off.

I nearly stepped on one, it was under the end of the dock where I was walking, and carrying a baby on my hip, and it just swam away from us.
They cross busy roads


She wasn't thrilled with us trying to coax her on her way
They have never gone after me in the water, only on land, like this one who resented us interfering with her being on the road.

Breeding
In addition, they are very slow to mature. It takes 10 -  15 years! Females begin breeding around age 17, laying 34 eggs per year. They figure that the survival rate is 1:1400.
All you can see is the triangle of their eyes and nose!
Can you spot the wee tadpoles?

Predators

  • humans, humans, humans...
  • Vulnerable head and legs,
    they bite in self-defence
  • scavengers like raccoons and striped skunks who will eat the eggs and loonie-sized hatchlings.



'Butch', raccoons eat snappers



The inside of his shell
All the 'remains' of Patch, the 1-eyed snapper

One-eyed Patch lived in our frog pond



Report reveals Ontario snapping turtles in peril; Demands end to hunt


February 21, 2012

Prehistoric turtles face triple threat from hunting, road kill and toxins

Toronto — The David Suzuki FoundationOntario Nature and the The Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre (KTTC)  released a new report today documenting the plight of Ontario's imperilled snapping turtles, prehistoric creatures that have been around for 40 million years but are being pushed to the brink of extinction. The Road to Extinction: A Call to End the Snapping Turtle Hunt highlights a controversial provincial policy that allows snappers to be hunted, despite being listed as a species at risk, and identifies eight hotspots where thousands of turtles are being run over and killed by cars each year.

Ontario is deadly for snappers.

  1. County of Haliburton and northern City of Kawartha Lakes; 
  2. Highway 7 from Norwood to Maberly; 
  3. Highway 69/400 from Port Severn to Sudbury; 
  4. Greater Golden Horseshoe; 
  5. Highway 60, especially through Algonquin Provincial Park; 
  6. Essex County, especially Pelee Island; 
  7. Highway 17 west of Sudbury; 
  8. Presqu'ile Provincial Park.


The four categories, or classes, of "at risk" are:
EXTIRPATED - a native species that no longer exists in the wild in Ontario, but still exists elsewhere 
ENDANGERED - a native species facing extinction or extirpation
'Butch' omnivore
THREATENED - a native species at risk of becoming endangered in Ontario
SPECIAL CONCERN - a native species that is sensitive to human activities or natural events which may cause it to become endangered or threatened

It seems to me that the wildlife are the hunters and poachers.

MNR Enforcement News - $4,000 Fine for Illegal 
    Sale of Protected Turtles...
    A Cornwall man has been fined $4,000 for selling and offering to sell native species on the Internet. Stephen Shillingford was convicted on eight charges related to illegally selling and offering to sell specially protected and game wildlife under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. On June 25, he met with and sold common snapping and western painted turtles to a plainclothes conservation officer.

    9 comments:

    Linda said...

    You always provide so much good information - I appreciate the research you undergo to write it! So sad about Patch...early in my blogging last December, I posted a real closeup of a snapper that hubby took - a real closeup! If you want to see it, it was on December 15th. Pretty cool photo!

    Kay L. Davies said...

    Oh, Jenn, another sad but interesting post.
    How dreadful we are about Canada's native species, and then all shocked and surprised when they're gone. Yes, there should be laws against turtle poaching everywhere in Canada.
    K

    TexWisGirl said...

    oooh, i confess, i'm not a fan of the snappers. we've had them in our pond and they take whole broods of ducklings - plucking them from below. just last week, i dove into the pond to save an adult whistling duck that was hung up on something - turned out a snapping turtle had it by the leg and was attempting to drown it. we've had them break duck legs before, too. eek!

    Christine said...

    It's so sad about these turtles, we are destroying our environment.

    Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

    Sad commentary! So much of that kind of stuff here in Florida too.

    DUTA said...

    The turtle sunning on the rock - I like both the still picture and the video one.

    Hope many read your post on turtles, and the danger of their extinction. People should do something about this.

    Red said...

    Turtles are a very majestic animal. I love to watch them swim. We have no turtles here. Some are found in southern AB

    Powell River Books said...

    A very interesting post. They are quite the muscular turtle. I've heard of them but never seen one live. - Margy

    Kay said...

    Snapping turtles were never my favorite amphibian, but it's sad to see what man has done to them.