It’s turtle saving season

As soon as warm weather hits, many of us expect to see turtles out and about.

But sometimes on their excursions or nesting ground hunts; roads, highways or trails can stand between the turtles and their intended destinations. In Ontario, you can’t go much farther than 1-2 kms without running into a road, and many turtles lay their eggs on land far away from their watery habitats.

But although many of us from Six Nations know turtles aren’t as slow as they’re claimed to be, but rather cautious and careful, it is easy to know that turtles and speeding traffic aren’t a good mix.

Every year, hundreds of turtles are severely injured or killed on roads. The saddest part about this fact is that even if a turtles shell is crushed, turtles can remain alive for days or even weeks in agonizing pain because of their slow metabolisms.

So how do we help?

Whether this has been a sub-conscious duty upheld by Turtle Clan members or simple human decency, if you travel the roads of Six Nations you will often find a car or truck that pulled over to help a turtle cross the road during this time of year.

But advice in how to do this varies.

For the more calm tempered turtles like the painted, blandings, or spotted turtles, it is easiest to pick them up firmly by their sides and carry them in the direction they were facing. If you try to change their course for them, the turtle is very likely to simply try to cross the road again in the direction it wanted to go in the first place.

But for the larger and scarier turtles such as the snapping turtle, the most recommended way is to hurry the process along by using a blunt object to carefully push the turtle in the direction it wants to go. There have also been many family stories circulated about extremely large snapping turtles stopping on the road, and men having to entice the turtle to bite a stick before they picked it up at the sides to move it along without worry of getting bitten.

As well, PETA suggests not to relocate the turtles and if a turtle is injured they advise to take it to a wildlife rehabilitator or veterinarian.

Turtles belong to the oldest reptile group after being around for over 250 million years and many mature from the age of 8 years to 20 years, so saving them during this season will definitely impact their growing or decreasing numbers.

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