(Jim Elliot - Black Press Media)

‘Give turtles a brake’: Conservation group asking motorists to slow down

Nature Conservancy of Canada is asking people to slow down and help turtles cross the road

As COVID-19 restrictions ease and more people are getting back on the road, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is asking travellers to slow down for wildlife, especially the endangered western painted turtle.

Turtle populations are vulnerable to collisions along roads and highways, particularly in B.C.’s Okanagan region where the combination of turtle-supporting wetland and high-traffic roads results in many turtle deaths each year. The western painted turtle is considered a species at risk by the Committee of the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, and incidents like vehicular deaths can put the entire population at greater risk.

In West Kelowna on Westlake Road, May and June have already seen several turtles crushed by vehicles as they try to cross the road from one wetland to another. There is signage in the area telling drivers to slow down and currently, the City of West Kelowna is in the process of installing trail cams in the area to observe the turtles and figure out how to best help them cross the road.

“Turtles are not just adorable, they’re an important part of wetland ecosystems,” NCC program director Kristyn Ferguson said.

“They help keep wetlands clean and healthy by eating dead plants, insects and animals, and play the role of the wetland janitor.”

Travellers will sometimes encounter turtles on busy roads in major centres or on back roads where there may be wetlands. According to the nature conservancy, turtles can wander as far as 10 kilometres between May and October. They set out to mate in the spring, with newly hatched turtles travelling from their nest to a nearby wetland or body of water in late summer and early fall.

The nature conservancy is asking motorists who see turtles on the road to slow down and drive around them. If it’s safe to do so, motorists are encouraged to pull over and move the turtle in the direction it was going.

READ: City of West Kelowna to install trail cams to monitor turtle crossing at Westlake Road

READ: Okanagan painted turtle the victim of ‘cowardly attack’


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
Follow me on Twitter

Wildlife

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Five Vancouver Island First Nations call out Canada for ‘discriminatory’ food fish practices

West Coast nations say government ignoring court-won right to chinook and coho

Famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer brings movements of joy to Long Beach

Infamous dancer is exploring Vancouver Island, visiting the B.C. Legislature and other destinations

Bear trapped and killed near Tofino-Ucluelet

“This bear just was not leaving humans alone,” said Conservation Officer Andrew Riddell.

Fire restrictions in Tofino and Ucluelet

“It is visitors and residents alike that struggle with this one on a yearly basis.”

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

B.C. records 30-50 new COVID-19 cases a day over weekend, no new deaths

Many of those testing positive were identified by contact tracing for being linked to other confirmed infections

Rent-relief program becomes new front in fight between Liberals, opposition

Opposition trying to draw parallels between decision to have Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. run program and the WE controversy

Ottawa sets minimum unemployment rate at 13.1% for EI calculation

Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July

Cougar euthanized after attacking little dog in Qualicum area

Owner freed pet by whacking big cat, but dog didn’t survive the attack

$45K in donations received after couple’s sudden death in Tulameen

Sarah MacDermid, 31, and Casey Bussiere, 37, died August long weekend

Battle of Fairy Creek: blockade launched to save Vancouver Island old-growth

‘Forest Defenders’ occupy road to prevent logging company from reaching Port Renfrew-area watershed

COVID-19 could mean curtains for film and TV extras

Background performers worry they’re being replaced by mannequins on film and TV sets

Laid-off B.C. hotel workers begin hunger strike demanding job protection

Laid-off workers not sure what they’ll do when government support programs end

Most Read