Success with turtle mortality project
By Chad Ingram
A project aimed at reducing the number of turtle deaths by car is yielding some positive results.
Sheila Ziman and Paul Heaven of the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust visited Minden Hills councillors during their Nov. 26 meeting to talk about the trust’s turtle road mortality project.
This summer marked the second year for project, which diverts turtles from roadways using a specially designed system.
Seven of eight turtle species in Ontario are considered at risk.
“Their young don’t have a very good survival rate,” Ziman told councillors. “Healthy populations rely on low infant mortality. Roads are a primary threat to turtles.”
The land trust used plastic tubing, cut vertically and supported with metal rods, to create barrier walls at its test site along County Road 1 near Gelert.
The barriers, 500 metres in length and inserted into road shoulders, are designed to prevent turtles from crossing the roadway, diverting them instead to aquatic culvert underpasses.
“The numbers are really, really good,” Heaven, a wildlife biologist, told councillors, citing a large drop in the number of turtles on the road at the site.
Observations were taken at the test site, as well as two control sites, first in 2014 and again in 2015, by volunteers and by camera.
The number of turtles on the road in the test site area dropped from 54 to 16 and once turtles entered the barrier area, they were unable to breach it.
“No turtles were able to breach our wall,” Heaven said.
Species including snapping, painted and Blanding’s turtles were documented using the underpass.
Monitoring for the project in 2016 begins May 1 and the land trust is looking for volunteers.
For more information on the land trust, visit www.haliburtonlandtrust.ca.