I’m sure many of you saw our recent Facebook post announcing that the City of Kawartha Lakes supports a ban on the Snapping Turtle hunt. This was amazing news! But to be honest, I was a little shocked. I couldn’t believe how an animal listed as a Species at Risk could still be hunted legally. How does that make sense?

So I decided to spend some time on my Reading Week doing some actual reading. I’ve been researching the Snapping Turtle hunt, and thought I would share my findings with you all.


Timeline Overview

2007 – The Endangered Species Act was passed, requiring a Management Plan be completed within five years for any species listed as a Species at Risk. The Act provides automatic protection to any species listed as extirpated, endangered or threatened, but not to special concern species. You can find more information in Section 9.1 of the Act here.

September 2009 – The Snapping Turtle was listed as special concern.

December 2010 – The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) received an Application for Review of the Snapping Turtle hunt from the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO). The review was denied based on the reasoning that:

  • a Management Plan would be developed by September 2014, and
  • the potential for environmental harm was low if a review was not conducted before the completion of the Management Plan.

See the notice of decision here.

2010/11 – The ECO expressed concern about the Snapping Turtle hunt in his annual report. Specifically, the report focused on the fact that a two per day limit was set despite the fact that no population monitoring was in place. How could this catch limit ensure sustainability without proper monitoring? The ECO suggested a ban on the hunt until the issue was properly examined. Here is an overview of the annual report.

2012 – A petition with over 11,000 signatures was presented to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources supporting the removal of Snapping Turtles from the game species list. In response, the MNR proposed a monitoring program for hunters to report their catch numbers. Check out FROST Petition’s Facebook and Website.

May 2012 – Essex town council chooses to send a motion to MNR requesting a ban on hunting Snapping Turtles.

July 2012 – The proposed mandatory reporting of turtle harvests came into effect on July 1, 2012. See the regulation and reporting form here.

2014 – The City of Kawartha Lakes has chosen to send a motion to the MNR supporting the ban on the Snapping Turtle hunt.

Snapping Turtle on a Road Shoulder

After reading about all this, I feel like I could write pages and pages about Snapping Turtles, the hunt and their status as a Species at Risk. However, I will save some of that for another day and just share one more interesting fact with you…

Did you know that after all the controversy surrounding the hunt, Snapping Turtles might not even be safe to eat?

A study completed by Ontario Nature, the David Suzuki Foundation and the Kawatha Turtle Trauma Centre tested 14 turtles found dead on the road for harmful pollutants. Nine were found to have PCB (persistent organic pollutants) levels high enough to be harmful to children and women of childbearing age. Three were found to have levels so high they were unsafe for anyone to eat!

If you would like more information on this subject, please check out the following links.

The Road to Extinction

 Snapping Turtles: To Hunt or Protect

Until next time,

Intern Laura