Thursday, August 11, 2011

Watch Out for the Turtles!

The big excitement at Shaman’s Rock this summer is that the snapping turtle is back. He or she is an adult who we hope has been active in making babies because snapping turtles are becoming fewer and fewer.
Photo credit: Steven Katovich, USDA Forest Service
Snappers don’t make babies until they are fifteen or twenty years old. That’s a long time in the animal world and it means that even small numbers of turtle deaths can have a major effect on the species’ survival.

Turtles cross roads in search of food, mates or to find a nesting area. They often get smacked by cars, and unbelievably, some drivers run them over just to hear the crunch. If you see a snapping turtle crossing a road, don’t try to move it because they bite, hard enough to take off a finger. (They rarely bite in the water, so it’s safe to share the swimming spot with them).

Snappers now are a special concern under both Ontario and federal endangered species laws. However, in yet another of the great mysteries of bureaucracy, snapping turtles are still hunted in Ontario. Turtle hunting is open in most parts of the province to residents and non-residents. Each hunter is allowed to take two snappers a day, with a possession limit of five. Endangered species list. Hunting. Duh.

Turtle poaching also is a problem. In some cultures, turtles are valued as food and medicine.

Let's give them a break (brake) folks. There are too many extinct species already. 

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