Watch out for wildlife | Bancroft this week

June 21, 2022

By Nate Smelle

TRAVELING THROUGH ONTARIO’S Cottage Country any time of the year, it’s always wise to keep an eye out for the local wildlife along the way. In Algonquin Provincial Park alone, about two dozen moose are killed each year in collisions with motor vehicles. In the last two weeks of last May, four moose have been killed in collisions along the stretch of Hwy 60 that runs through the park.
According to a report by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation on wildlife and vehicle collisions in the province, there are approximately 12,000 wildlife collisions each year, resulting in approximately 400 human injuries.
Recognizing that 79 percent of collisions with wildlife and 50 percent of all fatalities occur on two-lane rural roads, it makes sense for motorists to stay alert and scour the road for pets, farm animals or wild animals when they get behind the wheel. North Hastings. In addition, across the country, motor vehicle collisions with wildlife cause approximately $800 million in damage annually.
While a collision with a 700-kilogram, 10-foot-long bull country is likely to be more disastrous than running over a red squirrel, any type of encounter can have dangerous or even fatal consequences.
As spring turns into summer and the local food supply that nourishes native wildlife becomes more abundant, many species become more active as they make the most of this seasonal opportunity. In addition, the warmer temperatures are causing several other species to migrate to their breeding grounds.
Ontario’s eight species of turtles are among this host of creatures looking for their nests. In North Hastings, and in much of the area we label ‘Cottage Country’, the breeding season is generally from mid-May to mid-July.
As we near the peak of nesting activity, we can expect more turtles on the move. Unfortunately, this means we can also expect more turtles to be killed or injured in motor vehicle collisions.
Depending on the species, the temperature and individual nesting of turtles can take anywhere from 30 minutes to more than two hours. Because the sand berms of rural roads provide the right conditions for nesting, it increases the risk for turtles and motorists trying to avoid them.
For those who encounter a nesting turtle in Cottage Country, Kelly Wallace of Think Turtle Conservation Initiative says it’s best to give her space and make sure the nesting process isn’t disrupted. Ideally, she also recommends that you keep at least 10 meters between yourself and the nesting turtle. Wallace says it’s also important to keep companion animals away from nesting turtles, as they can stress the turtle and force her to leave her nest.
“Nesting turtles leaving their nests have to finish their eggs,” explains Wallace. “A turtle that was initially startled during the day may return to the same area to nest or come close under cover of the night. This would result in a nest that is particularly vulnerable to predation at night or in the early hours.”
After she’s done laying her eggs and covering her nest, Wallace says you can help reduce mortality on the turtle road by observing which direction she’s going; and if necessary help her cross the road in the direction she is going. When helping a turtle cross the road, Wallace says it’s imperative to always make safety your first priority.
If you find an injured or dead turtle anywhere in Ontario, Wallace recommends calling the Ontario Turtle Conservation Center, home of Ontario’s Turtle Hospital, at: 705-741-5000. She says their team of volunteers will provide free medical care to the turtle or any eggs recovered. The OTCC also has ‘Turtle Taxi’ volunteers to help transport turtles from all over Ontario.

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