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World Turtle Day: family donates West End island to help protect turtles

At-risk species on Senneville island to be taken care of
WATCH ABOVE: The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has acquired two islands that are home to multiple at-risk species thanks to a generous donation from the public. Global's Elysia Bryan-Baynes reports.

Île Hébert is a beautiful island where its previous owner once hoped to build his dream home.

Instead, it’s being donated to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), an organization that protects lands for conservational purposes, in an effort to maintain a habitat for the map turtle, a sensitive species.

WATCH BELOW: Conservation plan to save map turtles in Quebec

Île Hébert, a small Senneville island in the Lake of Two Mountains, is an important habitat for the map turtle.

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The island is considered crucial for the turtles, which are considered vulnerable under Quebec’s Act Respecting Threatened or Vulnerable Species. They’re also a species of “special concern” under the federal Species at Risk Act.

“Islands are a good way to protect them from waves, people and predators,” said the NCC’s Joël Bonin.

The island was owned by a man named Norman Hébert who wanted to build a home on the land, but it didn’t happen before he died in 2015.

On Tuesday, his family donated the island to the NCC at a ceremony held at the Ecomuseum Zoo in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue.

“He must be thrilled, he would be thrilled, his one regret is probably that he never got to meet those beautiful turtles,” said Louise Hébert-Lalonde.

The donation was facilitated by the federal government’s Ecological Gifts Program, which gives a tax break to families who want to donate their land and helps them navigate the paperwork necessary to transfer the property to conservation groups.

The federal government also announced it is protecting Ile Reid, an island on the Ottawa River that is also an important home for the map turtle.

The Nature Conservancy has launched a website, carapace.ca, which allows those who see the reptiles in their neighbourhoods to report sightings and help scientists keep track of turtle hot spots in the province.

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