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Tallying turtles on the Rose Point Trail

Cottage Country Now

By Cathy Scissons

May 6, 2011

Saturday, April 30 was a textbook perfect day to be scouting out local ponds for turtles basking in the sun. The Parry Sound Nature Club could not have asked for better conditions, and an enthusiastic group of about 25 participants came out to enjoy the sunshine, learn a bit about the turtles living in this area and survey the ponds along the Rose Point Trail. The turtles in the area were only too happy to have a warm, sunny day after a stretch of cool, wet weather, and provided the group with many viewing opportunities.

In total, the group tallied 31 Midland Painted turtles and one Blanding’s turtle. Blanding’s turtles are a threatened species, so it was encouraging to see this shy animal. Seven of the eight species of turtles found in Ontario are currently at risk. The Painted Turtle is the only one whose population is not in trouble – for now. All others are currently classed as Special Concern, Threatened or Endangered. Turtles in Ontario are protected under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. If you see a turtle, please do not disturb it or remove it from its habitat. Watch it, love it, but leave it alone!

In addition to the many turtles, the group also saw an Eastern Garter Snake and a Northern Water Snake.

Ontario’s reptiles and amphibians are becoming increasingly rare. In fact, three quarters (18 of 24) of Ontario’s reptile species are listed as species at risk. Ontario Nature, a parent organization for many of Ontario’s local nature clubs, has started gathering data for a new Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas project in partnership with the Eastern Ontario Model Forest (EOMF), the Ministry of Natural Resources’ Natural Heritage Information Centre (NHIC), and other government agencies and nongovernmental organizations. Volunteers are always needed to help gather data. Please visit www.ontarionature.org and click on the link for the “Reptile and Amphibian Atlas” for more information or to find out how to submit your own observations!

Thank you to everyone who turned out for the hike. The next meeting of the Parry Sound Nature Club will be on Wednesday, May 18, at 7 p.m. at the West Parry Sound District Museum. Ann Bossart is a volunteer at the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Centre in Austin, Texas, and will lead the Nature Club on a visual tour of the Centre. Please bring your own mug for refreshments. There is a $3 fee for non-members. Please note a slight change in our schedule for the Spring Birding Hike led by Rick Snider – the date for the hike has been moved to June 4. Meet at 8 am in the Sobey’s parking lot – remember your binoculars, bird book, bug jacket and a snack and/or drink!

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