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Local biologist wins award from Ontario Nature

Heart FM,
heartfm.ca,
June 6 2016

Species at risk biologist Scott Gillingwater has won the W.W.H. Gunn Conservation Award for his work on the now endangered Spiny Softshell Turtle

WOODSTOCK - A local biologist for the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority has won the W.W.H. Gunn Conservation Award from Ontario Nature.

Scott Gillingwater was given the honour for his work on the Spiny Softshell turtle. The news is a little bittersweet for Gillingwater as the Softshell turtle has been upgraded from Threatened to Endangered by the Committee On the Status of Endangered Wildlife In Canada.

Marketing Specialist with the UTRCA Steve Sauder tells Heart FM about some of the work Gillingwater has done with the turtle over the past couple of years.

"Scott has done an amazing job for over two decades, he has been working to first understand the population, what they eat, where they travel, what their needs are in terms of nesting and then going further and protecting critical nesting habitat."

Scott won the award demonstrating outstanding personal service and a strong commitment to nature conservation over many years with exceptional results. The UTRCA has been working to recover a number of Species at Risk including the Spiny Softshell Turtle through habitat creation/protection, research, monitoring and the release of young turtles and education programs.

Sauder says you can still find the Softshell turtle in our watershed.

"We have had sightings, right up into the Woodstock area from the South branch, all the way down into the London area and then on the north branch, we have had sightings all the way up into the St. Mary's area."

Gillingwater, Species at Risk Biologist for the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority says they will continue to work on preserving this endangered reptile.

"We continue to work hard to protect and recover this species, and since our recovery efforts have resulted in proven success in Canada, we can share this model for other sites where this turtle has active populations. As populations continue to decline in most areas, the Thames River has become a stronghold for this species in Canada, due in large part to over 20 years of recovery actions."

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