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ON Press: Long live the snapping turtle

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Posted by: W von Papineäu at Wed Oct 27 11:46:49 2010  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by W von Papineäu ]  
   

ALMAGUIN NEWS (Burk's Falls, Ontario) 18 October 10 Long live the snapping turtle (Glenda Clayton)
Long live the snapping turtle. At this point in the year, snapping turtles are tucked into hibernation sites at the bottom of ponds, rivers, quiet bays and wetlands. They will emerge again in April, eager to bask in the spring sun, and carry on for another season.
These turtles are an ancient species. They have endured on our planet for millennia. Snapping turtles have experienced significant changes in the last century and their population is in decline.
The snapping turtle is recognized as a species of special concern in Ontario. This means it has characteristics that make it particularly sensitive to human activities or natural events.
Like all turtle species in Ontario, snapping turtles are under threat from habitat loss, road mortality and nest predation by animals such as raccoons. Animals such as raccoons and skunks thrive near people. In many places, their populations are higher now than ever before. These animals are efficient nest predators and can have devastating effects on the hatching rate of turtles’ eggs.
Roads are particularly deadly for female turtles as they move onto land each spring to find a suitable warm, sunny place to lay their eggs. It is during this critical time that they are often forced to cross roads. The loss of adult female turtles is devastating for a population since there is less than a one per cent chance of a turtle surviving from egg to adulthood.
Incredibly, researchers in Algonquin Provincial Park have recently surmised that large snapping turtles in northern climates could be several hundred years old, perhaps even upwards of 400 years. This estimate is based on results from a turtle monitoring program that has run in Algonquin since 1974.
The data shows that most of the adult turtles monitored over 36 years have barely grown. These results also show that it takes 10 to 45 years for Algonquin’s snapping turtles to reach breeding size. Female snapping turtles grow more slowly than males since they devote most of their resources into making eggs rather than growth.
So, next spring when you see a large prehistoric looking turtle warming her elderly body in the sun, you might wonder if she witnessed the voyageurs paddling along the coast. And if you see her trying to cross the road, please give her and her future offspring a “brake”.
Long live the snapping turtle


   

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