Thames River Watershed Turtles have begun Nesting (media release, June 1, 2017)

The 2017 turtle nesting season has begun. With nesting, comes encounters with turtles along roads, in yards and along driveways. Currently, seven of Ontario’s eight turtle species are listed as at risk. Even our most common species, the Midland Painted Turtle, is experiencing declines in some areas. Here are a few easy ways you can participate in turtle recovery and be part of a growing community of concerned citizens.

You can help by watching for turtles crossing the road and, when it’s safe to do so, helping them across the road. Placing the turtle back in the nearest wetland area is advised (regardless of the direction it was moving). If you’re helping a turtle across the road, use care when you lift the animal, keep it low to the ground in case it falls, and ensure your hands and arms are always behind the turtle and away from its head.

With turtle populations declining across the province, all adults are important to local populations. Some turtles in this region may be close to 100 years old, so you really are encountering a piece of history when you meet a turtle along a roadway.

If you find a turtle nesting on your property, do not disturb her. Eggs may take 50 to 90 days to hatch, and some species stay in the nest until the following spring. Try to avoid stepping on the nest and know that you are doing your part in aiding species in need. Many nests are destroyed by predators, but those that survive contribute to increasing or maintaining turtle populations in this area.

We are always interested in sightings of the following species:
Spotted Turtle (Endangered) – small turtle (1012 cm) with a black shell with small yellow spots
Blandings Turtle (Threatened) – medium sized turtle (18 -23) with a black high-domed shell, often with yellow flecks, and bright yellow throat
Spiny Softshell Turtle (Endangered) – large sized turtle (females 35-46 cm, males 20-24 cm) with green to brown flat, leathery shell, with a long neck and long snorkel-like snout

If you see any of these Threatened and Endangered species, please contact Scott Gillingwater, Species at Risk Biologist.

The Thames watershed is one of the most diverse rivers in Canada and is home to a wide range of both abundant and endangered species.

– Photos of Spotted Turtle, Blanding’s Turtle and Spiny Softshell Turtle
– Photos of releasing Spiny Softshell Turtle hatchlings
– Video of releasing Spiny Softshell Turtle hatchlings

To help with turtle research and other local environmental projects, please visit

Contact: Scott Gillingwater, Species at Risk Biologist, or Steve Sauder, Marketing Specialist

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