submitted by Donna Ross
County Road 23 roadside has become a popular turtle nesting spot this May and June. Because the road runs close to the Rideau River in some sections, the loose gravel beside the road is the perfect location to dig a nest and lay eggs. And so, it was in mid-June that I was alerted by cyclists that a turtle was making her nest in front of our home. It was amazing to watch and then to see her ramble off back to the river. I called her Tess.
What to do? I had to protect the nest and the eggs from predators. My husband and I rigged up signage on reflector stakes and covered up the nest with chicken wire. And now we watch and wait for the hatchlings to crawl out and instinctively head for the water. Gestation period is 50 days, so we have a birthing date of mid-August!
Having witnessed the nesting and seeing turtles move across the road this spring, I wanted to do something to bring awareness to the yearly occurrence of crossing turtles. It is devastating to see ones that have been hit by a car, many still struggling to live with deep cracks across their shells. I decided to make a request to Merrickville-Wolford Mayor Struthers about Turtle Crossing Area road signage. He contacted the County and within a week two bright yellow roadside signs were erected on the east and west side of County Road 23, two kilometers apart, in the section of the road that runs close to the river. I have now read and learned a great deal about the lives of turtles, especially the Painted and Blanding’s Turtles which are common in our area. They are amazing creatures and need protection from cars, especially in the spring and late summer when the mothers and hatchlings find their way back to the water. So, if you see what appears to be a rock… slow down, it could be a turtle crossing the road! If you decide to stop to nudge them across the road, always do that in the direction they are heading. Please keep an eye out for turtles crossing roads anytime between April and November. All Ontario turtles are now considered Species at Risk, due to the many human-related threats.
For inforation about Ontario turtles, please visit the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre’s website: Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre – Making Ontario a safer place for turtles (https://ontarioturtle.ca/).