Photos by Gregor Beck|
Blanding Turtle Hatchling
Port Rowan, ON: Over the last few years, hundreds of volunteers and dozens
of landowners have been reaching out to help conserve the reptiles of the Carolinian
Region. Many of these conservation-minded community members have been lending a
hand by participating in Long Point Basin Land Trust's (LPBLT) Conserving Carolinian
Reptiles project, which has the goals of protecting local turtle and snake populations
and engaging the public in conservation actions. The project is critically important
since six of seven turtle species and half of the dozen snake species in the area
are listed species at risk.
"Reptiles are among the most threatened wildlife in the region," said Gregor Beck,
LPBLT's director of conservation science. "LPBLT's Conserving Carolinian Reptiles
project is in its sixth year now and we're really excited how the initiative has
grown. Over 350 volunteers have participated by helping with on-the-ground conservation
efforts and by reporting their reptile sightings. By submitting reptile sightings,
volunteers are helping us learn more about these ancient creatures, and helping
us plan effective, locally-tailored conservation solutions."
With strong community support, the Conserving Carolinian Reptiles project has been
helping turtles and snakes for six years. Highlights include:
- By the end of 2013, project participants had reported observations of over 4,400
turtles and snakes, helping biologists plan effective conservation actions;
- 427 instances of reptiles being protected from vehicle strikes, including protection
for 237 at-risk reptiles;
- installation of 60 reptile habitat features, such as turtle nesting structures and
savanna habitat restoration, with documented use of habitats by many reptiles;
- over 80% reduction in road mortality of reptiles at Long Point Provincial Park as
a result of the installation the seasonal wildlife barrier; and,
- increased participation by volunteers in conservation actions that help reptiles.
Results of a survey of 20 project participants indicate that: 100% of participants
gained increased knowledge of species and habitats at risk; 75% increased their
personal actions that benefit reptiles; and, 75% increased their actions to benefit
other species at risk and biodiversity in general.
"The project's success in helping turtles and snakes is a testament to the hundreds
of community volunteers and landowners who believe in the importance of protecting
the diverse flora and fauna of our region," noted Beck. "The Land Trust thanks these
volunteers, partners, visitors and landowners who help our native wildlife on a
daily basis. This is a great example of neighbours helping our wildlife neighbours
and species at risk!"
The Long Point Basin is home to 19 species of reptiles, including 12 snake species
and 7 turtle species. Six of seven turtle species and half of the dozen snakes in
the Long Point Basin are listed as species at risk. The Long Point Basin includes
Norfolk County, western Haldimand County, eastern Elgin County, and adjoining parts
of Oxford and Brant Counties. The area is in the heart of the biologically-diverse
Carolinian Region of Canada.
While some wildlife species may bite if they are disturbed, none of the extant native
reptile species in the Long Point Basin are harmful to humans. Some local snake
species, though, are known to mimic venomous snakes. For example, the Eastern Foxsnake,
Milksnake and Gray Ratsnake may vibrate their tails as a defence strategy. The Eastern
Hog-nosed Snake sometimes puts on elaborate defence strategies also, spreading its
neck wide, puffing itself up, and even rolling over and 'playing dead'. These species
are harmless to humans and perform vital services ecologically and for people -
for example, by controlling rodent populations. For more information about reptiles
of the Long Point Basin and Ontario, please visit
www.LongPointLandTrust.ca The Land Trust website contains numerous free
resources about conservation and reptiles, including factsheets and videos.
In the photos: Blanding's Turtle (Threatened) 2011 hatchling. Note yellow
throat, faint spots and domed shell. Eastern Foxsnake (Endangered) is non-venomous
and harmless to humans, but may vibrate its tail. The Eastern Foxsnake is adept
at catching mice, and is excellent at rodent control.
Quick tips to help reptiles:
- Drive carefully and watch for wildlife on roads. Slow down near natural areas, such
as woodlands and wetlands.
- Be especially watchful in early summer when females seek nesting locations, and
in early fall when young emerge.
- Boat slowly near wetlands and in shallow water areas to avoid collisions with reptiles.
- Protect and restore natural habitats, including hedgerows, buffer strips along streams,
woodlands and wetlands.
- Report suspected poaching of reptiles, or other illegal activities, to the OMNR
TIPS line: 1-877-TIPS-MNR (1-877-847-7667)
- You can help LPBLT learn more about the status of local reptile populations and
plan effective, locally-tailored conservation programs, by reporting your observations
LPBLT encourages the public to help further by reporting their turtle and snake
sightings to: www.LongPointLandTrust.ca
Long Point Basin Land Trust (LPBLT) is a charitable non-government organization
which protects and restores important natural habitats in the Carolinian Region.
LPBLT promotes conservation through outreach, research, habitat restoration and
species at risk recovery. The Land Trust owns five nature reserves and works with
landowners and conservation groups to steward natural areas. This project is undertaken
with the financial support of the Government of Canada through the federal Department
of the Environment, the John & Pat McCutcheon Charitable Foundation, individuals
and partners. Assistance for this project was provided by the Ontario Ministry of