Turtle poachers have returned to the Kingston area and this time they are targeting turtle nesting sites that are set up along the K&P Trail.
Kingston resident James Ostler says he and a group of friends spend a portion of the first two weeks of June placing turtle nest protectors alone a portion of the K&P Trail to shield turtle eggs from predators like raccoons and foxes. But earlier this week he found out another predator got to the eggs instead.
“You can see here that the whole thing has been properly dug out with a garden spade or a shovel,” says Ostler.
Another indicator was that no pieces of egg shell that would be left behind if it was a natural predator.
Maybn Armstrong, head of Turtles Kingston says five nets were poached and estimates around 125 eggs were lost. Last August poachers raided turtle nests along Princess Street in the west end of the city taking 300 eggs.
All ten of Canada’s turtle species are listed as ‘at risk’ and five of those species are located in Kingston.
Armstrong says loss of habitat and high morality rates along roads and highways are just a portion of the equation that is leading to turtle decline.
“Less than 1 per cent of all turtle eggs survive to sexual maturity, the fact that they have to be eighteen years of age to sexually produce, it takes sixty years for one sapping turtle to replace itself” says Armstrong.
The latest poaching incident has been reported to Kingston Police and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests. Armstrong says poaching isn’t a problem just in Kingston, its a global issue. She is calling on governments for more support for the agencies that are involved in enforcement in the fight against poaching.
Armstrong says, “more has to be done legislatively, their has to be greater law enforcement, there has to be more resources put in to respond to the issue.”
And Ostler is calling on the public for help to protect the remaining nests. He’s encouraging the public to question anyone if they are caught tampering with the nests, and to take photos if they see anything suspicious,
In the meantime, Ostler and his friends have increased the frequency of their own monitoring of turtle nests along the K&P Trail.