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King’s wood turtle among most threatened

February 12, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Mark Pavilons

A long-time King resident is in danger of being wiped out.
The wood turtle has been identified as one of the most threatened species in the country.
Amphibians and reptiles are facing more threats than other at-risk species, according to a recent study by WWF-Canada.
The study, published in the scientific journal FACETS, noted they’re threatened more than any other species across the country.
Jessica Currie, who led the study, found that Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife (COSEWIC) assessed at-risk species across the country face five threats on average, while amphibians and reptiles face seven threats on average. Of the 180 species analyzed in the report, wood turtles were among the most threatened species. Found in Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, this turtle faces nine out of 11 threats, leading to an overall decline in population.
They are found here in King.
In fact, citizen’s group Kingscross Ratepayers Association pointed to the turtle’s sensitivity during opposition to a local severance in late 2015.
A more thorough examination of an abutting woodland is needed, he said, to determine the impacts on the local forest cover and habitats. The MNR has indicated there is a species of risk in the area – the wood turtle. It has been considered endangered prior to 2008. This mid-sized turtle reaches roughly 20-24 centimeters long and is known for orange or brick-red colours on its legs. Wooded areas are essential habit for this turtle and it’s threatened by predators and habitat loss.
Mary Muter, KRA co-chair, said there are several Species At Risk turtles in King Township including wood, Blanding’s and a species of concern – snapping turtles. These turtles could be found in the many woodlands, wetlands and streams throughout King Township.
Ranging from residential and commercial development, energy production and mining, and human intrusion to invasive species, pollution and climate change, there are a total of 11 threat categories as defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
“From logging to housing to industrial and agricultural development, the impact of humans continues to be felt by nature,” added Currie.
“There’s still time to reverse the decline of wildlife, but we must be deliberate. As species are threatened by numerous compounding pressures, conservation action must address multiple threats at once.”
Biological Resource Use (BRU) was the most referenced threat, appearing in 76 per cent of the 180 reports analyzed. BRU refers to the direct harvest of plant or animal species, including deliberate take through logging, hunting or fishing, or unintentional harvest, such as accidental bycatch. Canadians have already shown overwhelming support to address the threat of unsustainable fishing in Canada, and now’s the time to put that commitment into action.
According to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), there are turtles in Happy Valley Forest and across King. Conservation biologist Jenna Siu has observed them on NCC properties and in the area. They are mostly snapping (species of concern provincially and federally) and midland painted turtles (species of concern federally) in the area. Historically, Blanding’s turtles have been found in the area, but not recently. Roads and habitat fragmentation continue to threaten Ontario’s turtles in all areas, including King.
Sadly, the wood turtle is officially designated as being “endangered” in Ontario, according to Kelly Wallace, of Think Turtle Conservation Initiative.
“Declines to the wood turtle and the other eight species native to Ontario populations have been in large part due to habitat loss and degradation, fragmentation, predation, road mortality, illegal activities (collection of eggs and turtles). Other factors include: climate change, pollution, watercraft strikes, fishing by-catch, trapping/hunting, etc.
“The wood turtle is semi-aquatic spending more time on land then in water. As wooded areas are essential habitat logging through the decades has negatively impacted the wood turtle populations in Ontario.”
Being designated as an endangered species their precise locations are protected, she said. Poaching is a problem as well so safeguarding their locate is important, she pointed out.
This turtle’s slow growth, late maturity and low reproductive success rate increases its vulnerability to the threats mentioned and more.
The provincial government’s proposed “Forest Sector Strategy” to double the amount of logging in Ontario has upped the concerns.



         

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