News

Public can help protect nesting turtles

By Michael-Allan Marion, Brantford Expositor

Long Point Provincial Park staff Starr Mudge (left) and Brianne McCutcheon display one of the turtle nest protection cages available on loan from the park. Submitted Photo

Long Point Provincial Park staff Starr Mudge (left) and Brianne McCutcheon display one of the turtle nest protection cages available on loan from the park. Submitted Photo

LONG POINT  - 

Special cages are being made available to the public to help protect turtle nests on Long Point.

High water levels in Long Point marshes this year will cause turtles to search farther afield for dry nesting sites on roadsides and on cottage lawns and gardens, said Rick Levick, president of the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve.

He said that nests in such areas are easy targets for raccoons, skunks, possums and other predators.

“We often have high water levels in the marshes, but his year is particularly bad,” Levick said in an interview Monday.

“So ... we have to work harder to protect the eggs because most of the turtle species in Ontario are listed as species at risk. There are eight species of turtle in Ontario. Six are at Long Point and five are considered species at risk.”

So, the foundation is teaming up with Long Point Provincial Park to make turtle nest protection cages available for loan to the public. The initiative is based on successful programs at Point Pelee and Presqu’ile provincial parks

“We have heard good results from those places and the public can help us here,” said Levick.

Cages are available at the main gate of the Long Point park office.

Contact assistant park superintendent Anthony Ruymleskie or park staff at the office. To check if a cage is available, call 519-586-2133.

“If you see a turtle laying eggs on your property, you can borrow a cage to place over the nest,” said Levick.

“It can be secured to the ground by the landscape spikes provided or by placing bricks or rocks on the edges of the cage.

The cage should be left in place for at least two weeks until the scent of the turtle has dissipated, he said.

It must be removed, however, within two months so that hatching turtles aren’t trapped. Turtle eggs take at least 90 days to hatch, said Levick.

The cages can be returned to the park office after they have been removed from the nest.

Levick said people also can help preserve Long Point’s turtles by watching for them along roadways and helping them cross to safety.

Brantford Expositor

MMarion@postmedia.com