Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Sharing the Earth with 200 million year old creatures

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
Submitted by MVFN member Jill McCubbin
October 17, 2003

Sharing the Earth with 200 million year old creatures

TurtleCo-existence (between people and turtles) was the subject of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists’ discussion at their monthly indoor event held at the Almonte United Church Hall on this past Thursday (Oct. 16). It was an excellent, informative and entertaining evening that included a presentation from turtle expert, Michele St. Cyr, from Turtle S.H.E.L.L. Tortue. Members of all ages were in attendance, listening attentively, and asking questions.

The event began with a National Film Board film presentation on video: Creatures of the Sun: a natural history of the painted turtle. This film, shot in Quebec, is an exploration of pond life that focuses on the life cycle of the painted turtle. It has a conservationist perspective and super footage of turtles-from hatchlings and reproduction, to life span and habitat. The Almonte library does not currently have this video in its collection, but perhaps with a little pressure…

Michele St. Cyr and the organization Turtle S.H.E.L.L. Tortue (www.turtleshelltortue.org) began a turtle crossing sign crusade back in 1999. The turtle crossing signs aim to educate motorists about where & when to look out for turtles crossing the road. The signs are yellow and diamond-shaped with a black turtle motif in the centre. Arrows show the direction of the crossing turtles, and the months they’re on the move are marked on the signs as well. These signs have been adopted by municipalities through the Ottawa region and are effectively aiding in the protection of turtles. Mississippi Mills supports this program and has a few signs within the municipality. The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists hope to co-ordinate an increase in the number of these signs in our local area. There are many unmarked areas where turtles regularly cross roadways near wetlands, swamps, and ponds in our county.

Ontario has populations of more species of turtles than any other province or territory. (According to St. Cyr: Newfoundland and PEI have none!). One small step toward increased turtle survival: Please avoid insecticides and pesticides used in commercial and household gardens. These cause deformities in turtles. We are lucky here in Lanark to provide the habitat for these turtles: common map, Blandings, common musk, painted, spotted, snapping, and wood. We need to act responsibly to protect our Triassic cousins.

Visit the Field Naturalists’ website at www.mvfn.ca for more information about the club and about the exciting line-up of upcoming indoor and outdoor events. The next indoor event is Species at Risk on Thursday, November 20. Speaker: Michel G Vermette, from the Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans, at the Almonte United Church, 7:30 PM.