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Resident concerned for endangered painted turtles in Kelowna pond

Turtle pond water level still low

Water levels at a Kelowna pond that’s home to a number of endangered painted turtles have been a big concern for several months now.

Like a lot of people who visit the popular pond at Mission Creek Regional Park, one local resident is upset about the pond’s dwindling water supply.

Heather Cameron and her young son, Silus, are avid turtle watchers at Kelowna’s ‘Eveyln Island‘ pond.

“One thing that worries me is that we see a lot of smaller turtles, but not a lot of big ones,” Cameron told Global News on Tuesday.

Upset Residents: Kelowna’s Hall Road residents want tap turned back on at popular fishing pond
Upset Residents: Kelowna’s Hall Road residents want tap turned back on at popular fishing pond

Cameron says they visit the pond about once a month.

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“Yesterday, we saw a lot of turtles struggling in mud,”​ Cameron said.

Cameron shared several photos of painted turtles navigating shallow, muddy water with Global News on Monday.

“It’s not enough water,”  Cameron said.

“That’s a major concern, and it would be a brutal death to get stuck in the mud and die that way, either from a predator or just from dehydration.”

READ MORE: Kelowna fish and turtle ponds be refilled following neighbourhood concern

Lack of water has been an ongoing problem at the pond since spring, when a change in irrigation districts shut the taps off at the Hall Road children’s fishing pond fountain.

The Hall Road trout fishing pond eventually feeds into the ‘Evelyn Island’ turtle pond.

In an effort to prevent the pond from drying up, the Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO) pumped water from Mission Creek into the turtle pond, while the City of Kelowna poured tap water into the trout pond as it awaited a well to be dug as a more permanent solution.

Fresh water for the popular wildlife ponds in Mission Creek Park is on its way.
Fresh water for the popular wildlife ponds in Mission Creek Park is on its way.

On Tuesday morning, the RDCO turned the fountain back on at the trout pond, after completing a 90-foot well next to the trout pond.

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“As we fill this pond up, there is an outlet at the far end of the pond that siphons off and goes down to the next pond in the chain,” said Wayne Darlington of the RDCO.

Darlington says they’re trying to mimic pond levels prior to the irrigation system change, adding that the entire situation is being overseen by a biologist.

Turtle treated by West Kelowna veterinarian released back into wild
Turtle treated by West Kelowna veterinarian released back into wild

“As part of our management plan, we have been working closely with a biologist,” said Darlington, “and, so far, there haven’t been any concerns identified.”

Cameron is hopeful that the new well will provide enough water to keep turtles from perishing in the mud.

But she says she’ll continue to monitor the situation on her own.

“Absolutely I think everybody should be watching to see,” she said. “These are endangered animals.”

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