Ontario Turtle Conservation Conversation

Photo of large turtle; Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre; part of Viamede Resort's summer recreation programming

by Wendy Baggs, Education Coordinator, OTCC

The Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre (OTCC) is home of the “Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre”. Our mission is to protect and conserve Ontario’s at-risk native turtles and their wetland habitats. The OTCC is a multifaceted hospital that uses a multi-pronged approach to conservation, employing Hospital, Science and Education. The centre is supported by a province-wide network of local veterinarians, private clinics, and other wildlife centres who perform admissions and emergency care. The OTCC holds “Turtle Trauma Workshops” to help train veterinarians and rehabilitators throughout Ontario. The centre has a network of over 5oo Turtle Taxi Volunteers that transport injured turtles. Injured turtles arrive from all across Ontario!

Photo of large turtle; Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre; part of Viamede Resort's summer recreation programmingOntario Turtles At Risk

Seven of the eight species of Ontario’s turtles are now listed as ‘species at risk’. Habitat destruction is the primary cause for many of the species’ decline, followed by injuries and early death from automobiles, boats, fish hooks, dogs, and humans. Other species of wildlife are also injured and killed, however most animals have young from the previous year to mate and replenish their population. Less than 1% of turtle eggs and hatchlings survive to adulthood. Turtles can take from 8 to 25 years to reach maturity. It can take 1500 eggs and up to 60 years to replace one nesting female killed on the roadside. Therefore, every turtle saved is beneficial to the population.

Conservation Efforts

The OTCC treated 940 turtles that were admitted into the hospital in 2018, and incubated over 3700 eggs that came from injured females admitted.

We are currently taking care of over 800 turtles that have been staying with us for the winter. Our Education Program reached over 15,000 people. Currently, we are radio-tracking a group of our ” headstarted” juvenile Blanding’s turtles, alongside a group of wild juveniles, to ensure they are surviving and thriving. We are entering our 7th year in this study.

The OTCC strives to increase awareness of the challenges facing Ontario’s turtles and to inspire individuals to act!

The OTCC will be holding turtle workshops as part of Viamede Resort’s summer recreation programming. Come meet a turtle and learn more about conservation efforts! You can also follow OTCC on Facebook and Twitter.