Four Midland Painted Turtle hatchlings have started their long and dangerous journey towards adulthood at Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG).
The babies were released near Grindstone Creek by Species at Risk (SAR) biologists on Monday, as part of an ongoing effort to rehabilitate endangered, native turtle populations.
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Biologist Sarah Richer says the 2021 nesting season has been successful for the SAR team, which has protected 59 nests across RBG properties.
Many of the nests were in unsafe locations and, as a result, were safely removed to increase the hatchlings’ chances of survival.
“With incubating the eggs and releasing them once they’re hatchlings,” says Richer, “we’ve gotten them past their most vulnerable point.”
Richer stresses that baby turtles still face many dangers as they grow, from predators and motor vehicles, to pollution and the loss of their habitat.
“People keep discarding tires and they keep drowning the adult snapping turtles,” adds Richer, “people releasing their pets which are contributing to diseases that we’re finding now.”
If we don’t protect the adults, and the habitat, we run out of babies to protect,” stresses Richer.
On the positive side, Richer says there are signs of progress through their efforts.
“I anecdotally have had an increase, myself, in the reports of non-hatchling juveniles, that are now being sighted around the properties,” says Richer, “which is exceptional.”
RBG has released approximately 1,200 hatchlings back into local wetlands, with Monday’s release being the last for this season.
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