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Small town council calls for snapping turtle protection

CBC News Windsor

May 8, 2012

A small bedroom community southeast of Windsor, Ont., has started a campaign to save snapping turtles from being hunted.

Essex town council will send a motion to the provincial Ministries of Natural Resources and Environment, requesting a ban on hunting the reptiles.

Coun. Sherry Bondy is behind the campaign. "Snapping turtles are important to our local eco-system. They cleanse our marshes; they eat all the dead carcasses; they provide, as they go through the marshes, many habitats for smaller little insects and animals," Bondy said. "Their eggs are food for other animals. They're really fragile. They have so much to offer."

The snapping turtle is a "special concern species" under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act. According to the Ministry of Natural Resources, the snapping turtle has also been assessed nationally as a special concern species by the federal Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

"Because they have such a long time before they become sexually mature,they really don't have eggs when they're young, so we have to protect the older ones," Bondy said.

In April, naturalist group Ontario Nature submitted a petition to the provincial government — signed by 11,000 people — calling for an end to the hunt.

John Urquhart, a conservation science manager with Ontario Nature, said fewer than seven of 10,000 snapping turtle eggs reaches adulthood, so every single turtle is crucial to the continuation of the species.

If they do survive, Urquhart said they can live longer than most humans.

“For a creature to have been walking around since before the first world war to be killed, whether it’s on a road or by hunting or habitat loss, it's just a shame,” Urquhart said.

Ministry of Natural Resources policy allows anyone with a provincial game or fishing licence to "bag" up to two snapping turtles a day.

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