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Protecting Ontario's Turtles
$95 raised
4% of $2.4k goal
3 contributors
0 days left
Ended May 20, 2014
Help me protect turtles in Simcoe County! It's the female turtles that have a difficult time nesting and nests are destroyed before eggs can hatch. Based on the success of a pilot project in 2012, I'd like to continue expanding the program.

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Province of Ontario is home to 8 species of turtles. Seven of these species are listed as Endangered, Threatened or Special Concern (meaning they are declining but don't know by how much- yet). Central region of the province holds all 8 species and is the only region in Canada where you can find this many turtles. These ancient creatures had an incredible lifespan from 80- 100 years (or more!) but this age is shrinking due to increased exposure to threats. Major threats to include habitat loss, road mortality and predation.

Every June the female turtles embark on a journey to find a suitable location to lay eggs. If you're familiar with Central Ontario, you will know that we sit on the Canadian Shield- every lake, pond or river is surrounded by pink granite or limestone bedrock. Because of this, many turtles are forced to travel up to 10km, crossing roadways and other obstacles to find their perfect nesting location. Our infrastructure is vast so it doesn't take much to encounter a roadside. Turtles require loose sand and plenty of sun exposure to bury their eggs about 6-8 inches underground. Unlike birds, 'Momma' doesn't stay to incubate her eggs. She returns home after delicately burying eggs then relies on the summer sun to incubate and hatch the eggs after 60-90 days. Here lies the problem! Nocturnal predators such as foxes, skunks, raccoons or otters are searching for a quick meal. An estimated less than 1% of nests hatch successfully from "premature" predation. When females reach sexual maturity (20-25 years) they will lay eggs EVERY YEAR during their lifetime and they tend to return to the same area each time. 

The Project:

Since few eggs are hatching and females are "abruptly ending their journey" the objective of the program was to entice female turtles to nest closer to their home by constructing artificial nesting sites; thus reducing the risk of being killed on a road. The other concern was how to safely protect the nest from predators without harming or interfering with natural processes. Matt has developed a unique wire mesh protector that allows full exposure to the sun but more important, allows safe exit for the hatchings [for specific details on how this is done, please contact Matt]. Depending on the species, hatching can occur 60-90 days from the date of laying (for Central Ontario, it's typically around Labour Day weekend). Predation can occur any time during this period, though Matt has experienced highest rate of predation is within 12 hours from laying and throughout September (for late hatchings). 

This is a community project. I personally recruit & train a team of dedicated volunteers to assist in monitoring nesting locations during three weeks in June. Volunteers can learn how to identify species, get familiar with turtle habitat and discover the "inner-workings" of nesting. I encourage all landowners [with a pond or wetland] to participate. Anybody within the community can contact me regarding a nesting turtle and I provide a nest protector- free of charge.

Your Money:

Your donations will help expand the program to new areas by establishing new partnerships with participating landowners. Funds will be used to construct artificial nesting sites and manufacture wire mesh protectors. This includes purchasing materials and transportation expenses involved during construction. A portion of the fund will be used to purchase video surveillance equipment (ie. trail game cameras) to help monitor and better understand predator behaviour. Once sites are established, this project can operate for multiple years. 

If I exceed the fundraising goal, this will allow to expand the program that much further. 

If you have questions about this project, please send me a message; ardtreanaturenut[at]

Thanks for your support!!

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