(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

Plane crashes into Nelson supermarket parking lot

Pilot and passenger have minor injuries

Phase three presents new opportunities for Kootenay tourism

Message from MLA Michelle Mungall and MLA Katrine Conroy

QUIZ: How much do you know about British Columbia?

On this B.C. Day long weekend, put your knowledge of our province to the test

FortisBC sees record-high summer electricity usage in Okanagan and Kootenays

‘As temperatures spike, so does the demand for electricity’ - FortisBC

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Michael Buble among 13 British Columbians to receive Order of B.C.

Ceremony will be delayed to 2021 due to COVID-19

U.S. border communities feel loss of Canadian tourists, shoppers and friends

Restrictions on non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border have been in place since March 2`

Rollout of COVID-19 Alert app faces criticism over accessibility

App requires users to have Apple or Android phones made in the last five years, and a relatively new operating system

Alleged impaired driver sparks small wildfire near Lytton after crash: B.C. RCMP

Good Samaritans prevented the blaze from getting out of control

B.C. First Nation adopts ‘digital twinning’ software to better manage territory

Software allows users to visualize what a mountain might look like if the trees on its slopes were logged

All inquiry recommendations implemented after fatal Port Hardy RCMP shooting: Ministry

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. cleared the RCMP officers involved of wrongdoing

Leave your deets when dining: Restaurants taking personal info to trace COVID-19

Health officials say indoor dining presents a higher risk

Most Read