Officials with the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre and Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre said they have seen more turtles this year than ever.
“We have taken in almost 1,000, which is more than we have ever taken in in an entire season and we are only at our midpoint,” said program manager Donnell Gasbarrini. “We will still be very busy through July, August and September.”
Gasbarrini said a big factor in the uptick is awareness — people now bring turtles to the Peterborough facility from all over Ontario. It is the only centre of its kind in the province that treats injured turtles and rehabilitates them for extended stays before re-release.
“On a slow day, we are seeing 10 to 15 turtles coming in,” she said. “On a busy day, we see upwards of 40 to 50. We have never had a year where we have taken in that many turtles.”
Gasbarrini said most of those turtles have been hit by cars and come in with fractured shells and limb or face damage. They are treated by veterinarians at the trauma centre and kept, sometimes for months, until they are able to be released.
She said the cool start to spring delayed nesting season, so the centre is urging drivers to be on the lookout for turtles on the road.
“We hope that people will just slow down,” said Gasbarrini. “Sometimes turtles may look like rocks on the road, but it is important to be aware that they are nesting this time of year.”
She said if it is safe to do so you can also help a turtle across the road by carefully carrying it.
“You can even use a car mat or a shovel to assist the turtle to the other side of the street,” Gabarrini said. “Just make sure you are moving them in the direction they are travelling.”
In Ontario, there are eight different species of turtles, the most of any province. All eight species are considered at risk and four are also considered endangered.
Funding for the centre currently comes from grants and donations. Staff are also holding an evening fundraiser on Friday, July 12 to help offset this year’s costs.
“We just hope that people will come to check out the centre and see the important work we are doing,” said Gasbarrini.
For more information you can visit: ontarioturtle.ca