Watching wildlife | Bancroft this week

June 21 2022

Written by Nate Smil

Traveling through rural Ontario any time of year, it’s always wise to keep an eye on the local wildlife on the go. Each year, approximately two dozen moose are killed in car crashes in Algonquin County Park alone. In the last two weeks of last May, four moose were killed in collisions along the stretch of Interstate 60 that runs through the park.
According to a report on wildlife/vehicle collisions in the province by the Ontario Department of Transportation, there are about 12,000 wildlife collisions each year, injuring nearly 400 people.
Recognizing that 79 percent of wildlife vehicle collisions and 50 percent of all fatal accidents occur on two-lane rural roads, it makes sense for drivers to remain alert and scan the road ahead for pets, farm or wildlife, when they are in Aft Wheel in North Hastings. Moreover, motor vehicle collisions with wildlife nationwide cause losses estimated at $800 million annually.
Although running over a 700-kilogram, three-meter bull moose is more likely to have disastrous results than running over a red squirrel, any kind of confrontation can lead to serious or even fatal consequences.
As spring turns into summer, and the local food supplies that feed the resident wildlife become more abundant, many species become more active as they make the most of this seasonal opportunity. In addition, warmer temperatures cause many other species to migrate to their nesting sites.
Eight species of turtles in Ontario are among this crowd of creatures seeking to return to their nests. In North Hastings, and throughout much of the territory, we usually call the nesting season “Cottage Country” the nesting season from mid-May to mid-July.
As we approach peak nesting activity, we can expect to see more turtles on the move. Unfortunately, this means that we can also expect more turtles to be killed or injured in car crashes.
Depending on the species, the temperature and individual nesting of turtles can last anywhere from 30 minutes to more than two hours. Because the sandy shoulders of country roads provide the right conditions for nesting, this increases the level of danger to turtles and drivers trying to avoid them.
For those encountering a turtle nesting in Cottage Country, Kelly Wallace of the Turtle Conservation Initiative says it’s best to give them space and ensure the nesting process is not disturbed. Ideally, she says, it’s also recommended to keep at least 10 meters between you and the nesting turtle. It’s also important to keep companion animals away from turtle nests, Wallace says, as they can put pressure on the turtle and force it to abandon its nest.
“Nesting turtles that abandon their nests will need to finish laying their eggs,” Wallace explains. “After initially spooked during daylight hours, the tortoise may return to the same area to live or come close to its flanks under cover of night. This may result in a nest particularly vulnerable to predation overnight or during the early hours of the morning.”
After you’ve finished laying their eggs and covering their nest, Wallace says you can help reduce road deaths for turtles by watching which direction you’re heading; And if necessary, help her cross the road in the direction she is going. When helping a turtle cross the road, Wallace says it’s essential to always make safety your first priority.
If you find an injured or deceased turtle anywhere in Ontario, Wallace advises you to call the Ontario Turtle Conservation Center, home of the Ontario Turtle Hospital, at: 705-741-5000. She says their team of volunteers will provide medical care to the turtle or any eggs retrieved for free. The OTCC also has “Turtle Taxi” volunteers to help transport the turtles from anywhere in Ontario.