Blanding’s Turtles are a nationally threatened species in Canada. Until this week, only six of freshwater creatures lived in Rouge National Urban Park in Toronto. But that population was given a big boost Tuesday with the release of 21 baby turtles.
“This long term reintroduction project is the first of its kind in the Greater Toronto Area and marks a significant step in 15 years of turtle monitoring and research in what will soon become Rouge National Urban Park,” Dr. Andrew Lentini, Curator of Amphibians and Reptiles at the Toronto Zoo said in a statement. “Blanding’s turtles are amazing creatures and in some ways they’re a poster child for endangered species – by helping them, we also help countless other wetland animals and plants, so this is a good news story.”
Turtle eggs were first collected from a stable population in southern Ontario in 2013 and raised at the Toronto Zoo. This is the second year the turtles have been released n the park. Last year, the zoo, Parks Canada, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and other partners added 10 babies to the Rouge.
But recovery is a long process. The species thrived in the Rouge Valley for thousands of years. Human activity, habitat loss and predators helped cull and fragment the population across eastern North America. But initiatives like this aim to change that.
“Blanding’s turtles are an important indicator species for wetland health and our Government is dedicated to re-establishing a healthy local population in the Rouge,” Leona Aglukkaq, Canada’s federal environment minister, said in a statement.
If you happen to be in the park and see the turtles, avoid their nesting areas. That’s also why officials didn’t give the precise location of the pond where the turtles were reintroduced on Tuesday.
Photos Parks Canada/Facebook