Why is the public works staff crossing the road? To help a turtle get to the other side safely.
Local municipalities help conserve at-risk species.
This female snapping turtle managed to cross the road safely. Unfortunately, many others aren’t as lucky.
Meg Wallace photo
Archipelago, Carling, Seguin and Georgian Bay Township staff received training and equipment from Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve staff to help identify and document species at risk they encounter while working on municipal roads and properties. This training included how to safely move species like the snapping turtle and massasauga rattlesnake and how to assist any injured turtle they encounter.
Unfortunately roads affect all wildlife by reducing habitat and forming a lethal barrier to movement. A study on Muskoka Road 5 found more than 270 dead snakes and turtles over two summers. Turtles are particularly impacted by roads since female turtles are at greater risk of being struck by vehicles. At this time of year, female turtles are searching for a warm, dry place to lay their eggs. It is during this critical time that they often encounter roads. The loss of females has been documented in numerous studies. For example, adult painted turtles located near high density roads, such as four-lane highways, are predominately male (73 per cent). This obviously has serious consequence for long-term survival of this species. Since public works staff travel frequently on our local roads, their assistance will help reduce road mortality.
Biosphere and public works staff also looked at how routine maintenance activities can be timed to reduce further harm to at-risk species. For example, to help protect nesting birds, it is preferable to complete brushing or woody vegetation removal in late fall and winter.
Eric Thompson, Public Works Supervisor with the Township of the Archipelago says: ““The introduction of Best Management Practices at Species at Risk training provided us with excellent guidelines to perform our maintenance activities within the constraints of Species At Risk Legislation.”
Where and how we choose to build can also be done in a manner to reduce harm to wildlife. Local municipal planners, building inspectors and people who work in the building industry participated in a workshop at Killbear Provincial Park. This workshop focused on how to identify important habitat features, the associated species at risk and how to potentially lessen the impacts from development.
“Understanding more about local species at risk and identifying their habitats is valuable knowledge when helping our clients decide where to locate their buildings,” notes Brenda Ryan of FAD Design.
This summer, the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve is offering free site consultations for people planning on building within the Biosphere boundaries. This consultation will help you look at your property from a wildlife perspective.
Staff will identify important habitat features, the associated species at risk and provide resources to help you make informed decisions on how to conserve them. It is an opportunity to gain knowledge, support and resources to ensure your project is completed in a manner that’s best for our environment.
For more information, please contact the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve office at 705-774-0978 or email email@example.com.