In 2012, we started a field project funded by the Species at Risk Stewardship Fund, entitled “Mitigation of Threats to At Risk Turtles at a Road Mortality Hotspot”. This 3 year project encompasses many conservation initiatives; juvenile headstarted Blanding’s turtles, hatched from injured or deceased Blanding’s turtles admitted to the KTTC, are being tracked via radio telemetry to evaluate survival and behaviour. This will aid in determining the success of headstarting as a conservation strategy. During the pilot year, 10 juveniles were radio tracked for the season. In addition, road mortality surveys were conducted, in order to determine scope of mortality and the best site for ecopassage implementation. Population surveys of Blanding’s and spotted turtles in this previously unsurveyed area, were also started.
In 2013, with the addition of funding from TD Friends of the Environment, an additional 4 field sites were added to our radio tracking project. In addition, another cohort of Blanding’s juveniles were added to the initial field site. A control group of wild juvenile and adult Blanding’s turtles were also tracked, to compare their behaviour and survival to our headstarted juveniles. The total number of turtles tracked during this year was 47. Road mortality surveys and population surveys were continued, leading to critical data to aid in the implementation of ecopassages and a better understanding of population dynamics, and behaviour of the very elusive juvenile Blanding’s turtle.
Our road mortality data was combined with that of Kari Gunson’s of Ecokare (a road ecology organization with a special interest in turtles). Kari has implemented ecopassages in this hotspot region. Temporary ‘exclusion fences’ have been installed, so the effectiveness of them can be evaluated before the addition of permanent fences. KTTC aided in the construction of these, and will assist in the monitoring of their success, with a view to permanent ecopassage construction. This work will continue in partnership with EcoKare, in 2014.