For more than 200 million years turtles have survived and thrived on Earth. Unfortunately, seven of the eight species of Ontario’s turtles are now listed as species at risk provincially, and all of them are listed as at risk federally. In my opinion, this situation is due to a combination of human-caused factors. One is the loss of their natural habitats, the other is ongoing road mortality.
Deterioration of Turtle’s Habitat
Agriculture in southern Ontario and forestry activities in the central and northern regions of this province are the two main factors that have caused the loss and deterioration of indigenous turtle’s habitat. According to Ontario Nature, more than 70 per cent of the southern region of this province’s wetlands have disappeared as a consequence of these activities.
© Jose Caldas—Brazil Photos |LightRocket |Getty Images
Turtles suffer from road mortality during the nesting season, mostly because people don’t know what to do when a turtle is harmed. According to a study and a blog post made by The Canadian Wildlife Federation roughly 1000 turtles have been found killed on roads over the past two years in the greater Ottawa area. This is a meaningful threat to many species of turtles in Canada only surpassed by the loss of their habitat, as the main cause of population reduction.
Vehicles represent a big threat to turtles’ continued survival. Kristyn Ferguson from Nature Conservancy Canada, which is an organization dedicated to protecting nature in all its diversity, works eagerly to educate people on how to handle a turtle when they come across it on the road.
“Turtles are not just adorable, they are an important part of wetland ecosystems, they play a really critical role in helping keep wetlands clean and healthy by eating dead plants, insects, and animals,” said Ferguson. “They really playing the role of the wetland janitor. Turtles are a really important part of the food web.”
However, if you have already caused damage to a turtle while you were driving, there is an amazing place that you can take them where these reptiles are cared for. This is the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre, a non-profit charity that operates the only wildlife hospital for Ontario’s native turtle species.
As you can see, the topic of Canadian’s endangered turtles is incredibly complex. Nevertheless, in my opinion, the biggest threat to their survival comes from what is probably the most obvious source: human beings, who have progressively damaged the biodiversity of the natural world as a result of overexploitation of agriculture and forestry activities. Also, and not least important, most people don’t know what to do or where to attend when a turtle is injured by a driver’s car.
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