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News from the Turtle Care Centre

Turtles can’t stop turbines
Watch and slow down for turtles on the road

Pioneering eye operation helps snapping turtle

Urgently needed: Volunteers/generator/donations for Turtle Care Centre

The Petrie Island Project - Nov, 16, 2003

Bird Watching News Environment News Frog News

For more news from the Turtle Care Centre, visit their Web site...

Turtles can’t stop turbines
The March issue of the Farmers Forum carried this story: PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY — Three Ontario Superior Court judges have ruled that turtles can’t stop the construction of nine wind turbines at Ostrander Point, an 800-acre parcel of land about 30 minutes south of Picton in Prince Edward County, in Eastern Ontario. (Click on pic to enlarge). Read more...

A story in the Thursday, February 20, 2014 issue of the
Toronto Star carried an earlier story:
Court favours wind turbines over Blanding's turtle
An Ontario court has ruled that an environmental tribunal erred when it rejected a proposed wind farm that threatens the habitat of Blanding's turtles. Blanding’s turtle is in trouble again: An Ontario court has cleared the way for a wind farm that an environmental tribunal says will threaten the turtle’s habitat. The modest reptile had stood in the way of a wind farm at Ostrander Point in Prince Edward County.

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Watch and slow down for turtles on the road
By Michele Andre-St.Cyr and David Seburny

(Spring-Summer 2013) It's the warm season again and turtles are on the move, having recently emerged from their winter hibernation. Turtles move for many reasons – to change wetlands or for the females to go to their usual nesting site – but their movement generally means they must attempt the hazardous trek across roads and highways. Unfortunately, a turtle’s shell is no match for motor vehicles and hundreds of turtles are killed on roads every year. Such traffic fatalities are devastating for the turtle population, as they tend to target adult females looking for places to lay their eggs. By killing one female, about 25 generations of turtles have disappeared.

Species at risk
In Ontario seven of our eight species of turtles have been classified as species at risk. These species will continue to decline unless we help them. The good news is that there are numerous turtle crossing signs installed on highways throughout Ontario, thanks to the efforts of Turtle S.H.E.L.L Tortue (a registered charitable organization –

In Ontario seven of our eight species of
turtles have been classified as species at risk

We can all do our part by paying close attention to the road and shoulders in these designated turtle crossing areas and near any pond, marsh, river, or lake areas from now until the end of September. Paying attention to the road can save a turtle’s life or help prevent a car accident.

How to help a turtle cross the road?
If you see a turtle crossing the road please help it across. First, make sure that it's safe to help (do not endanger yourself or others by walking into heavy traffic). Move the turtle in the direction that it is traveling – this might not be towards the water. Turtles know where they are going and will turn around and march right back into traffic if you return them to the side of the road they came from.
Small turtles can be easily carried across the road. Snapping Turtles should be handled very carefully as they will bite. They can be safely moved across the road with an object from your car such as a shovel, car mat, and blanket. Another option is to prod a Snapping Turtle across the road with a long stick. Do not pick up a turtle by the tail this may damage the vertebrae.

What to do with an injured turtle?
If you find an injured turtle, contact the
Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary at 1-613-258-9480 and follow their instructions. You can also look at their website under Wildlife Emergencies and click on the Turtle section. (And have a look at their Facebook page.) It is important to record the exact location where the turtle was found, so that it can be returned to its home. If no distinct landmarks are present, record your odometer reading at the rescue site and then again at the nearest intersection. Keep the turtle in a quiet, dry and cool place during transport and do not provide any food or water for the time being.

(This photo comes to us courtesy of Sandra Curry. She happened to
catch this turtle sunning itself on the first day of summer at Petrie Island)

Turtles are long lived, and some species, such as Snapping Turtles can live for more than 60 years! By saving a turtle you not only help increase its lifespan, you also contribute to the preservation of a healthy ecosystem in your neighborhood.

(Editor's comment: Some people think that the turtle crossing signs are a joke, and some drivers have been seen apparently driving over turtles on purpose. However turtles are similar to frogs and bees - they can measure the health of our world environment. We urge you to keep an eye out for turtles or any other wildlife when you are driving our roads. Even frogs and snakes can be seen by the alert driver. There are many turtle crossing signs in our area. Next time you see a sign, keep a sharp lookout out for the turtle. -Ed.)

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Pioneering eye operation helps snapping turtle
(By Sharon Lem, QMI Agency) (Toronto - Dec 18, 2009)
"Darth Vader" has snapped back following a pioneering operation.The elderly snapping turtle, aged somewhere between 50 and 75, is recovering at the Toronto Wildlife Centre following cataract surgery to its right eye.

On Aug. 15, members of the sailing Club Mimico near Parklawn Road and Lakeshore Boulevard called the centre to report that the turtle had not moved from its spot beside a parking lot gate in three days.

The rescue staff found it had lesions on its feet, there was dead tissue at the tip of its tail, its left eye was missing and its right eye had a cataract, said Nathalie Karvonen, the centre's executive director.

"Snapping turtles spend much of their time in water and they don't eat on land and need to rehydrate in the water, but he was lethargic and didn't move," she said.

Once treated for its lesions, the turtle was ready for cataract surgery. This type of cataract surgery is not known to have been tried before in a wild freshwater turtle.

Snapping turtles are one of Ontario's seven at-risk turtle species. They're known to live up to 100 years.

Veterinary ophthalmologist Dr. Joseph Wolfer at the Animal Eye Clinic donated his time and operating costs to remove the cataract in an eight-hour operation Wednesday at his clinic.

"I've done cataract surgery on dogs, cats, birds and deer, but this was my first turtle and this was the biggest and oldest snapping turtle I've ever seen," Wolfer said.

"It was more difficult in that you can't lie him on his back or his side, so you have to turn his head sideways. But once he was anesthetized, I was able to get the cataract out fairly easily," he said, adding that the surgery was a success. "We kind of nicknamed him Darth Vader because of this low hissing noise he makes," Wolfer said.

Karvonen said the turtle will be kept at the centre until the spring, when he will be released into the wild.

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The urgent call is out: Volunteers needed to save and care for turtles
Rockland's Michele André-St. Cyr, affectionately know as the "turtle lady", tells us that her organization saves/preserves turtles. Turtle S.H.E.L.L. Tortue has an operational "Turtle Care Centre" at (613) 446-9927 or through: http://www.turtleshelltortue.org.

She is putting out an urgent call for a power generator and financial donations to cover the costs of the treatment and care of turtles at the centre. Volunteers are also needed. If you can help, please call: (613) 446-9927 or visit their Web site and click on "Volunteers".

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The Petrie Island Project - Sunday, November 16, 2003

Preliminary photos of the volunteers working at Petrie Island. Freezing conditions made it almost impossible to find any sign of underwater hybernating turtles and frogs and after several hours, the efforts were called off.

Rockland's "Turtle Lady", Michele Andre-St. Cyr, working in a borrowed wet suite, clears the more than one-inch thick ice from the surface of the pond. (Photo - Patrick Meikle)

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