TURTLE SIGHTINGS & ENCOUNTERS
Officially reporting any and all adult, juvenile or hatchling turtle sightings dead or alive is very important! This enables conservation agencies and wildlife conservation organizations involved in species at risk studies to identify and better understand the distribution of the various turtle species and the factors that have an effect on their activities. With access to this type of data and research they can identify areas that would most benefit from the installation of permanent mitigation measures such as under passes and fencing as well as assessing the suitability of pre-existing culverts that could be re-worked to serve as an effective mitigation site that enables turtles and other wildlife to travel under the road instead of on it in harms way. Having this data also helps with efforts to convince the respective governments to implement mitigation measures such as exclusion fencing, eco passages, and alternate nesting sites.
If you are not already reporting turtle sightings please checkout the various citizen science programs listed below alphabetically to acquaint yourself with the kind of information you will need to supply. Photo documentation is always recommended to substantiate each sighting and the type of turtle. Note: If taking a photo of a turtle you will be assisting across a road please do so in a safe manner by taking a photo of the turtle 'after' you have moved the turtle off the road and you are both safely as far over on the shoulder as possible and out of harms way. Do not put your safety or motorists at risk for a photo if there are any concerns at all. Reporting sightings is free and each program is particularly user friendly.
iNaturalist – This Canada-wide citizen science program is a community-based tool. Your observations will be vetted by researchers, experts and other citizen scientists. Submit your species at risk observations to iNaturalist by clicking the ‘add observations button’ on the project home page. https://www.inaturalist.org/
Natural Heritage Information Centre (NHIC) – Submit your species at risk observations to the ‘NHIC’ project at https://www.ontario.ca/page/report-rare-species-animals-and-plants
To report a single sighting use the Natural Heritage Information Centre (NHIC) Observation Reporting Form at https://engage.ontario.ca/en/content/natural-heritage-information-centre-nhic-observation-reporting-form If you prefer to compile your records in a spreadsheet, email it to the Natural Heritage Information Centre.
Ontario Turtle Tally – This is a fun, easy turtle monitoring project for people of all ages through the Toronto Zoo’s Adopt-A-Pond Wetlands Conservation Program. It’s a great activity for schools, families, cottagers, and community and naturalist groups across the province. Report your turtle sightings by entering your observations into the on-line database. The purpose is to collect, record and store location and species information on Ontario turtles, including species at risk. https://report.adoptapond.ca/
Road Warrior Program - Eco-Kare International has launched the 'Road Warrior Program.' Eco-Kare translates the data submitted for decision-makers to aid in planning, designing and monitoring for solutions that reduce the negative impacts of roads on wildlife.
BE A ROAD WARRIOR! They need citizen scientists from all across Ontario to submit observations to iNaturalist Wildlife On Roads!
Their website include a: How to be a Road Warrior video https://eco-kare.com/road-worrior/ Sign up on their website to receive monthly/quarterly ROAD WARRIOR newsletters, training video updates, and in the short-term, indicate how we can help you, e.g. technical help, where to collect data, workshops, presentations, etc.
Southern Ontario At Risk Reptiles (SOARR) - There is a new, quick way to report sightings of turtles and snakes in southwestern Ontario. Just submit a Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA) Turtle Reporting Form online (see attached link) to report a turtle nest with eggs, a turtle nest without visible eggs, and other concerns regarding turtle health and safety.in southwestern Ontario. Your report will go directly to Scott Gillingwater, Species at Risk Biologist with the UTRCA and the Southern Ontario At Risk Reptiles (SOARR) team. UTRCA Turtle Reporting Form https://thamesriver.on.ca/report-turtle-and-snake-sightings-online/
Turtle Guardians – The Turtle Guardians citizen science and recovery program is designed with kids in mind, adults will equally enjoy these features. Report turtle sightings and track how many you helped. Pass the turtle test to get your ID card. For anyone preferring not to report through a mobile device they have an Online Sighting Report Form. You will also be asked if you would like your sighting information sent to government agencies. https://www.turtleguardians.com/sighting-report-form/
TURTLES ADMITTED TO TURTLE HOSPITAL
A point to mention that some people may not be aware of is that if you find an injured turtle and the turtle is admitted to the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre (OTCC) you ‘do not need to report that turtle’ to a citizen science programs such as iNaturalist, Ontario Turtle Tally, NHIC or Turtle Guardians. The OTCC officially reports every turtle admitted to the Natural Heritage Information Centre (NHIC). If you do report the turtle encounter/sighting this would in fact be a duplicate reported sighting and contributes to skewing data for the year and regions turtles are located.
Turtle encounters/sightings reported to the NHIC are thereafter made available to government agencies, conservation organizations, researchers for educational and substantiating purposes for mitigation projects, environmental improvement, etc. Many agencies and researchers use the provincial record to plan, protect and study Ontario’s natural heritage. The information helps natural resources management and conservation decisions in Ontario and biodiversity conservation strategies for the Great Lakes region.
Note: To make the most of all your turtle encounters including turtles admitted to OTCC please share this information with local conservation organizations involved in nest protection, interim mitigation measures such as awareness signage and permanent mitigation measures like assessing and implementing underpasses. Be sure the organization is made aware the information you are sharing will be officially reported by the OTCC.
If you have any questions regarding this subject or other turtle related matters please do not hesitate to contact Think Turtle Conservation Initiative at 647-606-9537 (phone/text) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for looking out for species at risk!
Reporting turtle sightings is an important contribution to species recovery efforts. Photo: Brtthome