The Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre has been overwhelmed with injured turtles this spring.
So far this year, 230 injured turtles from across Ontario have been dropped off at the centre in Peterborough. On Sunday alone, 48 turtles arrived at the facility.
Sue Carstairs, the centre’s executive and medical director, says the turtles are admitted mostly due to road injuries.
“As soon as the weather turns warm, they start moving, trying to find where they want to hang out for the summer and their preferred feeding grounds,” she said. “Then, in June, the females start to lay eggs.”
The most common injury at the centre is a cracked shell. On average, an injured turtle will spend eight to 12 weeks at the centre before being released back into the wild.
In Ontario, there are eight species of native wild turtles, all at risk mainly because of accidents, says Carstairs.
She says motorists should slow down in areas known to have turtles.
“Especially if you’re approaching an area that is bordered by wetlands on or either side of the road, just slow down and look for things that look like rocks or potholes in the road, and they’re most likely turtles,” she said.
Carstairs says that drivers who find a turtle walking across the road should pick it up with care and carry it in the direction in which it was pointed.
Experts say that even if a turtle is dead, it should be brought to the centre on Chemong Road in Peterborough’s north end. If it’s a pregnant female, the eggs can possibly be saved.
“Last year, we incubated over 4,000 (eggs) so that helps also to repopulate,” Carstairs said. “Some of the ones in the background here may be over 100 years old and take a long time to mature.”
The conservation centre is a registered charity and depends primarily on private donations for funding.
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