New this year, we have started a field study to track and monitor the movement, growth, and survival of a group of young Blanding’s turtles (a Threatened species) that were successfully hatched at KTTC. This headstart program involves keeping newly hatched Blanding’s turtles for close to two years until they reach a size where they are less likely to be eaten by predators. The first 10 turtles to take part in our study were released this spring after having radio transmitters securely attached to their carapaces (upper shell). The young turtles were released into ideal Blanding’s turtle habitat, close to where their mother was originally found. The site is remote (far from roads) and offers different habitats such as large swamps, bogs, and open water. A keen group of volunteers have been out tracking the hatchlings since their release using a donated canoe, radio telemetry equipment, various nets, and chest waders. We are thrilled to have 40 more hatchlings at the centre getting ready to be released and tracked next spring, and another 30 new hatchlings that are quickly growing and preparing for their release in the spring of 2014!
The goal of this study is to determine if headstarting programs can help existing turtle populations. Our hope is that the juveniles we release will survive and help reduce the impact of so many turtles being struck and killed on our roads each year. Study results will be published to help share what we are learning with the wider scientific community.
As you can see, we are making incredible progress! We have provided care to a staggering number of injured turtles, we have incubated and hatched over 1,000 babies, we have talked about turtles to anyone who will listen, and we are inspiring people to take action! Yes, we are making a difference, but we couldn’t do it without your help. It is through your generosity that we are able to run these exciting programs, feed, treat and care for our turtle patients, keep them warm over the winter, and get them back where they belong in the spring.