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Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre

2021 Turtle Conservation Activities

Blanding’s turtle (Emydoidea blandingii)
Eastern musk turtle (Sternotherus odoratus)

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Project Details

Project Title: 2021Turtle Conservation Activities
Funding Recipient: Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre
Funding Awarded: $50,000
Targeted Species at Risk: Blanding’s turtle, and Eastern musk turtle
Project Status: Ongoing 

Project Summary

In 2021, the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre (OTCC) received $50,000 of Ganawenim Meshkik’s Eastern Georgian Bay Initiative funding to support turtle conservation activities in and around Ontario’s eastern Georgian Bay region. Based in Selwyn, Ontario, the OTCC is a registered charity whose goal is to protect and conserve Ontario’s native turtles and the habitat in which they live. Their efforts include eastern Georgian Bay Species at Risk (SAR) turtles including the: Blanding’s Turtle, and Eastern Musk Turtle. OTCC staff and volunteers advanced numerous conservation and protection efforts in 2021; they are summarized below:

Rehabilitation of Injured At-risk Turtles and Release to Source Wetlands: Over the course of the 2021 field season, 1,514 turtles from across Ontario were admitted to the OTCC; 140 of admissions originated in the eastern Georgian Bay region. More than 2,300 turtles were released back into their home ranges in 2021 (some having been admitted to the OTCC prior to 2021); 240 were released in the eastern Georgian Bay region. Turtles not released back into their Ontario ranges remain at the OTCC for overwintering as they continue to rehabilitate. Worth noting is the fact that turtle admissions in 2021 exceeded those of the previous year, an effect OTCC staff attribute to increased public awareness resulting from education and communication efforts.

Egg Incubation, Release of Hatchlings, and Field Research: Though not a component funded by the GMI funding, OTTC also harvested eggs, released hatchlings, and conducted associated fieldwork related to these efforts in 2021. The OTCC team continued to track 29 juvenile Blanding’s turtles using telemetry and recorded encounters with all other turtles which included documenting and taking morphometric measurements from 30 Eastern musk turtles, 25 Blanding’s turtles, and numerous non-SAR turtles.

Education and Stewardship, Outreach, and Communications: Building on their shift to virtual education and engagement efforts in 2020, OTCC staff in 2021 conducted virtual field trips, streaming events, and published videos including their Turtle Time video series. Staff capitalized on their expanded geographic reach through virtual engagements by providing virtual tours to numerous Indigenous communities located some distance from the OTCC, including Pelican Falls First Nation, Lac Seul First Nation, Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, and Lakeview School, M’Chigeeng First Nation. Staff also continued to create, update, and distribute educational resource materials including new brochures on Nest Protection and on Phragmites.

Parallel to virtual engagements and videos, OTCC staff also returned to in-person educational and training events when restrictions allowed. Educational programs such as Turtle Trek Adventures and Turtle Encounters received such positive participant feedback that staff plan to further integrate these programs in plans for 2022 activities. Training events related to turtle first responders as well as volunteer involvement were similarly successful and demonstrate OTCC’s resounding success in 2021. Turtle drivers and release volunteers now total 901, with 253 new volunteers joining the list in 2021.

Altogether, OTCC’s 2021 efforts conserved and protected SAR turtles and their habitats in the eastern Georgian Bay region and central Ontario. Simultaneously, OTTC program efforts helped grow knowledge and skills in Ontario citizens to increase the capacity for SAR turtle and SAR habitat conservation for years to come.

2021 Project Presentation

Further Details

For more information on the 2021 turtle conservation activities, please visit the links below.

Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre website

PDF – 2021 Turtle Conservation Activities Report

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