For the second year in a row Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre (KTTC) has admitted well over 600 turtles from across Ontario! With seven of the eight species now listed as Species at Risk, it is encouraging how quickly word is spreading about our hospital. More and more people are watching out for, and stopping to rescue, injured turtles on our busy roadways – even as far away as Manitoulin Island! Thanks to the amazing efforts of our Turtle Taxi volunteers, two injured female turtles made the 8 hour trek from Manitoulin to the hospital. The first made a full recovery and was returned to be released, while the second will spend the winter in our care continuing to heal. Both turtles were able to lay the 12 eggs they were carrying, which were incubated at the centre!
While it is wonderful news that more turtles are being rescued, it has become a constant struggle to meet their medical and rehabilitative needs. During the height of the nesting season in May and June we admit as many as 10 turtles each day. Most turtles arrive at the hospital in critical condition, often with serious fractures to their shells (which is a modified ribcage). Turtle shells are bone and, like our bones, they can heal. KTTC’s Medical Director, Dr. Sue Carstairs, has to be creative – using items like a dental drill, small metal clips, wire, and even cable ties to stabilize these fractures. Unfortunately, turtles heal very slowly and it is quite normal for them to remain in our care for a full year.
BUT WHY TURTLES?… So what if they go extinct?
As quiet and secretive creatures, it can be difficult to understand the unique importance of turtles. To do so, we must consider their habitat. While most of us know what a wetland is, many of us don’t realize what a wetland does. Wetlands act as large filtration systems to clean our water. Canada is ranked 3rd in the world for its fresh water supply, and our turtle populations play an important role in keeping our wetlands healthy. Their extinction could have a catastrophic impact on this delicate ecosystem and, in turn, the health of us all.
Thank you for helping us help turtles!
Development & Sustainability Coordinator
Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre