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Deer Lake, Perfect Habitat for the Endangered Blanding’s Turtle

Updated: Nov 29, 2018

The Blanding’s Turtle is now recognized as an Endangered Species and their habitat is protected under the Endangered Species Act. Blanding's Turtles live in shallow water, usually in large wetlands and shallow lakes with lots of water plants making Deer Lake a prime habitat for the Blanding’s Turtle. While there have been sightings of the Blanding's Turtle on Deer Lake, it is important to understand how fragile their environment is, and what we can do to help the Blanding's Turtle survival.

Endangered Blanding's Turtle

The Blanding’s Turtle is a medium sized turtle that is recognized by its high domed shell and bright yellow throat. Females do not mature until at least age 14, and individuals can live to be over 75 years old. In late May or early June, the female excavates a nest in a sunny area with good drainage and lays up to 22 eggs in a single clutch. Hatchlings 3-4 centimetres in length emerge in the Fall.


Blanding’s turtles are omnivorous and forage primarily during the day for crayfish, insects, fish, frogs and a variety of plant material. Most aquatic turtles feed exclusively in the water, but Blanding’s turtles also eat on land. Blanding’s Turtles are more mobile than other turtles, often moving between several wetlands over the course of the active season. Females nest in open upland areas but wander many hundreds of metres from their resident wetlands.

Wetlands, prime habitat for Blanding's Turtle

The Blanding’s Turtle is subjected to a number of threats which have contributed to its decline including:

  • Habitat loss

  • Road and railway mortality

  • Degradation of habitat by invasive plant species

  • Collection of animals for pet or medicine trade

  • Nest predation by elevated populations of predators due to human activities

The Blanding’s Turtle was assessed as Threatened by The Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario (COSSARO). Federally, The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) recently reclassified the Blanding’s Turtle as Endangered which means their general habitat is protected under the Endangered Species Act


What we can do:

  1. Report a Blanding's Turtle Sighting - The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry tracks species at risk such as the Blanding's Turtle. Click here to report a sighting.

  2. Be a good steward. If you find a Blanding's Turtle on your land, you may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats. Contact the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry for information on stewardship programs.

  3. As with many other rare plants and animals, the Blanding's Turtle is at risk due to the loss of wetland habitat. You can help by protecting any wetlands and surrounding natural vegetation on your property.

  4. Every year, turtles all over the province must cross busy roads to get to their nesting sites. Female Blanding's Turtles sometimes mistake gravel shoulders of roads as good nesting sites! Watch for turtles on the roads, especially between May and October.

  5. Never buy native species of turtles or any turtles that have been caught in the wild. If you see native species of turtles for sale in a pet store or food market, please contact the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

  6. Volunteer. There are a number of volunteer opportunities through the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre.

  7. The Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas also collects observations of all Ontario reptiles and amphibians. Submit your observations at: www.ontarionature.org/atlas

  8. Visit the Toronto Zoo Adopt-a-Pond website to learn more about Ontario's rare turtles, their habitat and related conservation initiatives www.torontozoo.com/Adoptapond


Baby Blanding's Turtles

Sources:

Government of Ontario website, Blanding’s Turtles

Blanding's Turtle General Habitat Description

How species at risk are protected

Ontario Nature



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