In complete disregard of a petition signed by more than 11,000 people and a report jointly released by Ontario Nature, the David Suzuki Foundation and the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) told us that hunting snapping turtles can continue even though the animal is listed under the Endangered Species Act.
Author: John Urquhart
People often ask Ontario Nature staff for advice about how to deal with situations that they encounter in nature. Whether putting out a bird feeder, planting native flowers or grasses, or choosing not to cut down the trees on your property, people are on the front lines of local conservation efforts more often than you might realize.
Question: How is it that the Ontario government can include snapping turtles on the provincial endangered species list while at the same time allowing, and even encouraging, the hunting of these long-lived reptiles?
Staff ecologist John Urquhart wondered this too, and put the issue to the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) last December. The response, which we received earlier this week, raises tough questions about MNR’s commitment to species protection.
May 9, 2010
It is hard to believe we’ve been working in the Lost Bay nature reserve for almost two weeks already. We spent the first week surveying the property and evaluating the habitat in terms of where we were most likely to find turtles and snakes. Three minutes into our first walk, we found a good sized male snapping turtle basking in the sun about 100 m from water! I wasn’t even planning on finding turtles at all that afternoon. Luckily I had a file and could mark its shell so we could identify it if we found it later. Our first turtle has notch code 12L. We proceeded to search for snake hibernacula and found a ribbon snake up on a rocky ledge. Thus within 10 minutes of entering the site we found two of the eight reptile at risk species we were searching for!
John Urquhart – Staff Ecologist
John joined Ontario Nature in July 2009 as the reptile and amphibian atlas intern. He completed a B.Sc. of Environmental Science in ecology and an M.Sc in zoology. John has worked on conservation, education and stewardship projects for government and non-profit organizations. Prior to joining Ontario Nature, he also participated in numerous monitoring and field research projects that focused on reptiles and amphibians.