Help Turtles In Winter
The following are 'TURTLE' related notes we have assembled with an emphasis on 'Helping Ontario's Turtles' during the fall months and through the winter. It is our hope you find this resource useful and informative this turtle season and thereafter.
(1) WINTER TURTLE ALERT
(2) TURTLES ENTICED
(4) CRAFTING 4 TURTLES
(1) WINTER TURTLE ALERT: An aspect of winter we are particularly appreciative of is that for at least 5 months of the year, the Ontario Turtles are safely off the roads. Each year the impact climate change is having is more apparent by the increased frequency, duration, and severity of temperature and weather patterns that affect both humans and nature. These concerns include weather anomalies that can present spring-like weather that may consist of a single day or a longer period during the winter months. It is the turtles' response to these false spring-like conditions that is the reason for concern.
Although a warm day during December or any of the winter months is generally regarded as a welcomed break by us temperatures above zero can entice some turtles out of brumation (hibernation) and onto the ice-covered bodies of water to bask in the sun. Most turtles would be able to retrace their route and find their way back under the ice. It is the turtles that are not able to that is the reason for concern. Turtles pre-maturely out of brumation (hibernation) are vulnerable and could easily be disoriented by the temperature dropping and/or a sudden change in weather. In such cases, a turtle can end up 'cold-stunned' and trapped on the ice. This runs the risk of exposure to plummeting nighttime temperatures and weather that a turtle would not be able to survive.
(2) TURTLES ENTICED: Should you spot a turtle that has ventured out onto an ice-covered body of water please take note. In most cases, the turtle is no doubt basking and quite fine. Binoculars can help to determine a turtle's behavior and well-being. If a turtle spotted appears unresponsive and makes no move to head back into the body of water under the ice, especially with cooler night temperatures and/or a blast of snowy conditions eminent, this is concerning.
If able to confirm that the turtle requires help 'PLEASE' do not venture out onto a frozen body of water to attempt a turtle rescue unless you are sure of the stability of the ice. Any doubts, do not put yourself in danger! If a rescue is necessary contact people in your community that are experienced in such matters. The public resources available in every community are different so we are not able to suggest exactly who to call but an example might be the local fire department. It is very possible they will have trained staff or volunteers, as well as the equipment for ice rescues, and will be familiar with the protocols in such emergencies. If not they may be able to point you in the right direction for assistance in your community.
When the turtle is retrieved it may appear lifeless and be considered dead. Please do not assume the turtle is dead! Turtles have the unique ability to rev down their metabolism to such a degree that they can appear lifeless. Even a fully qualified veterinarian under such circumstances would find it necessary to use an ECG to determine if a turtle has a heartbeat or not. Please call the Ontario Turtle Conservation Center home to Ontario's turtle hospital at 705-741-5000 as soon as possible if a turtle is rescued. The OTCC provides medical attention to the turtle species native to Ontario at no charge and can arrange transportation to get the turtle to the OTCC or one of the first responders they work with if you are not able to drive the turtle to the turtle hospital. Note: The OTCC winter hours are 9:00 am to 5:00 pm 7 days a week. Please leave a message if after hours.
(3) EDUCATION: Education goes a long way in helping wildlife and their habitat. Any time of the year is a great time to read up about turtles, with spending more time indoors during the winter this makes it an especially good time to read up on the many ways you can help turtles and learn more about turtles in general. A wondrous adventure awaits adults and youth of all ages. Start with the '8' turtle species native to Ontario and move on to global species. Have you ever seen a 'pig-nosed turtle' or seen how fast a 'spiny soft shell turtle' can move on land?' Take the time to learn about how you individually or with a group can be instrumental in helping turtles during turtle season.
Winter is a perfect time to check out the Ontario Turtle Conservation Network (OCTN) to see if there is a turtle conservation group in your community or neighboring communities. This is an excellent resource set up by the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre and Parks Canada that lists the contact information and other details for an extensive network of individuals and groups across Ontario engaged in turtle conservation and other environmental initiatives. From this, you may just find an exciting volunteer, citizen science program, or stewardship opportunity to help turtles, other wildlife, and their habitat. OCTN Website: https://otcn.ca/
NOTABLE MENTION: If you didn't get time during the spring, summer, or fall to officially report turtle sightings from the previous year, the winter is a perfect time to do that and time well spent. See 'Help Turtles In Summer' for more information.
(4) CRAFTING 4 TURTLES: Think Turtle launched the 'CRAFTING 4 TURTLES' initiative in 2018 to encourage adults and youth to use their crafts skills and hobbies to help turtles. Thanks to the very talented and caring Crafters/Artists that participate this initiative is still going strong.. Each year funds raised through the sale of handcrafted items go towards the treatment and care of injured turtles admitted to the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre (OTCC), home of Ontario's turtle hospital.
The handcrafted items we receive each year vary. Most often they are 'turtle' themed and nature themed. Some of the items in years past have included; a treasure trove of crochet/knit turtles and other animals, turtle potholders, quilts, afghans, felted turtle pins, turtle paintings, jewelry, resin necklaces, and key chains, turtle soap, dream catchers, etc.
If making handcrafted items for the 'Crafting 4 Turtles' initiative it would be great if your projects could be completed by the end of June. Note to coincide with when we will be participating in weekly events.: This is an ongoing initiative meaning we accept handcrafted items year-round. The success of this initiative is based on how many people participate. July through to December Think Turtle looks to sell the handcrafted items online, through retail outlets, and through scheduled community public events. Should you have questions about making items to donate to the Crafting 4 Turtles initiative please get in touch. We hope that adults and youths of all ages will view this as a great way to volunteer for a good cause from the comfort of your own home.
Please remind 'EVERYONE' in your household and visitors to your community to be mindful of the wildlife we share the roads with. Thank you most ardently for the ways you help Ontario's turtles, other wildlife, and their habitat.
If you have any turtle-related matters do not hesitate to contact Think Turtle Conservation Initiative at 647-606-9537 (phone/text) or send an e-mail email@example.com. For additional information about helping turtles check out our website at www. thinkturtle.ca, follow us on Facebook, and/or read our WordPress Blog posts.