(Jim Elliot - Black Press Media)

‘Give turtles a brake’: Conservation group asking motorists to slow down

Nature Conservancy of Canada is asking people to slow down and help turtles cross the road

As COVID-19 restrictions ease and more people are getting back on the road, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is asking travellers to slow down for wildlife, especially the endangered western painted turtle.

Turtle populations are vulnerable to collisions along roads and highways, particularly in B.C.’s Okanagan region where the combination of turtle-supporting wetland and high-traffic roads results in many turtle deaths each year. The western painted turtle is considered a species at risk by the Committee of the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, and incidents like vehicular deaths can put the entire population at greater risk.

In West Kelowna on Westlake Road, May and June have already seen several turtles crushed by vehicles as they try to cross the road from one wetland to another. There is signage in the area telling drivers to slow down and currently, the City of West Kelowna is in the process of installing trail cams in the area to observe the turtles and figure out how to best help them cross the road.

“Turtles are not just adorable, they’re an important part of wetland ecosystems,” NCC program director Kristyn Ferguson said.

“They help keep wetlands clean and healthy by eating dead plants, insects and animals, and play the role of the wetland janitor.”

Travellers will sometimes encounter turtles on busy roads in major centres or on back roads where there may be wetlands. According to the nature conservancy, turtles can wander as far as 10 kilometres between May and October. They set out to mate in the spring, with newly hatched turtles travelling from their nest to a nearby wetland or body of water in late summer and early fall.

The nature conservancy is asking motorists who see turtles on the road to slow down and drive around them. If it’s safe to do so, motorists are encouraged to pull over and move the turtle in the direction it was going.

READ: City of West Kelowna to install trail cams to monitor turtle crossing at Westlake Road

READ: Okanagan painted turtle the victim of ‘cowardly attack’


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
Follow me on Twitter

Wildlife

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. mogul sells Naikoon properties to parks system in $1 million deal

NIHO founder Rudy Nielsen sells 320 acres to BC Parks; Ministry statement expected in ‘coming months’

B.C. premier ‘not going to be apologetic’ about closure of Haida Gwaii fishing lodges

Horgan says ‘public health takes the priority’ over business in implementation of travel restriction

Regional district proposes closure of unmonitored recycling bins, new depot for Masset

Proposed updates to Solid Waste Management Plan aim to reduce waste on Haida Gwaii, save money

Rainmakers of Haida Gwaii set to perform for Special Woodstock

20th festival will feature musicians with special needs and other bands from around the world

Boon Docs comics illustrate Haida Gwaii health staff ‘Behind the Mask’

Family doctor and cartoonist Caroline Shooner shares inspiration for new comic series

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

Answers to 5 common questions facing families for the COVID-19 school year

COVID-19 protocols are likely to vary even more at the school board level, and even and school-to-school.

Visitors and non-residents entering closed remote B.C. First Nation’s territories

With limited resources, they say they don’t have any authority or power to enforce the closures

UBC loses appeal on Fisheries Act convictions

BC Supreme Court upholds order to pay $1.55-million fine

Masks to be mandatory on BC Transit, TransLink starting Aug. 24

Both BC Transit and TransLink made the announcement in separate press releases on Thursday

Acclaimed B.C. actor Brent Carver passes away

Carver, one of Canada’s greatest actors with a career spanning 40 years, passed away at home in Cranbrook

B.C. would not send students back to school if there was ‘overwhelming risk’: Horgan

Plan has left many parents across the province worried about their children’s safety

Canucks blank Wild 3-0, take series lead in penalty-filled NHL qualifying clash

Jacob Markstrom stops 27 shots to lead Vancouver past Minnesota

Most Read