• Hunter Cresswell

'Share the Road' with turtles too

Updated: Jul 16, 2020

By Stuart Benson

The return of summer in Wakefield means the return of tourists and busier roadways, especially ones leading to the many rivers and lakes in the area. Unfortunately for Wakefield’s turtles, summertime means making a nest and laying eggs, most often on the side of the very same roads leading to those rivers and lakes.

A moss-covered snapping turtle Wakefield resident Jane Hayward found near the side of the road on Chemin du Manoir near Lac Notre Dame. Photo courtesy Jane Hayward

Jane Hayward, a resident of Wakefield who lives near Lac Notre Dame on Chemin du Manoir, said she’s seen many turtles nesting or crossing her road, with a few, unfortunately, getting run over.

“[June 18] there were three larger turtles laying their eggs at the edge of the road,” Hayward said. “I've seen a number of smaller turtles [too], and one of them had been run over.”

Hayward said she took the injured turtle to a wildlife hospital in North Gower. While there, Hayward said she saw numerous signs alerting motorists to the presence of turtles on the side of the road, but said she sees almost no signs about turtles in Wakefield.

“It's nice that we have these turtles, but there's no recognition of the importance of protecting their environments or signage that they are even there,” Hayward said. “Our lakes are getting busier and busier, and traffic is getting higher, so I think it's important… [the turtles] have been around for a while and we want to keep them.”

When asked if La Pêche had any plans to install signage, Mayor Guillaume Lamoureux told The Low Down that currently there was nothing before council, but if a resident wished to have signs installed, it would be something the resident would need to submit before council.

In the meantime, if you see a turtle on the side of the road – nesting, crossing or if it is injured or no longer alive – you can report the sighting to the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s program carapace.ca.

Carapace.ca allows residents to log turtle sightings, along with the condition, species and location of the sighting, into a database to track the health and well-being of the province's different species of turtle. The website also includes tips on what to do if you do see a turtle, how to identify one, and resources to help develop and better protect turtles and their environment.

The Canadian Wildlife Federation also has a website, helptheturtles.ca, which has useful information on how to help protect your friendly roadside nesting turtle, including a downloadable pdf that will show you how to build and install a “turtle protector” that can be placed over a turtle nest to help protect them from predators.

A turtle’s active season happens between May and October, with the peak of their nesting and egg-laying season taking place between May and July. For the rest of the season, turtles are focused on finding food, a mate or a more suitable habitat.

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