COVID-19 pandemic helping turtle population, says local turtle activist
A painted turtle (Photo credit: D. Gordon E. Robertson via Wikipedia)
While humans have to self-isolate to help stop the spread of COVID-19, turtles don’t have to follow the same rules.
“It’s definitely been better because there’s a lot less traffic on the roads,” says Kelly Wallace of the Think Turtle Conservation Initiative. Due to that, she says the amount of turtles that will be struck this year is going to be down as compared to last year’s numbers.
“In the Bancroft and surrounding area, there really hasn’t been much turtle activity yet,” Wallace adds. She says she only got her first turtle sighting of the year this week when a neighbour told her that they saw a painted turtle sitting on a log in their backyard. The cool weather we’ve been getting during the early part of Spring has caused turtles to be a little slow in coming out of their shells. “This week you might start to see some,” Wallace says. She expects that there will be more turtle activity over the next couple of weeks.
“I hate that something like this has to happen for there to be such a positive impact for wildlife,” Wallace says of the pandemic. She points out that one negative is that turtles may next closer to the road, which makes it easier for predators to attack their nests. However, Wallace says that with car traffic being down that is a big positive because fewer adult turtles will be struck. Turtles Guardians say that turtles get hit on roads when they are moving to nesting sites, and these turtles are mainly the egg-laying females.
If you’re looking to help turtles, Wallace says not to seek them out as you may have in past years since we need to continue self-isolating. However, if you’re out and about and spot one on the side of the road then be sure to help it out. Wallace says to always move a turtle in the direction it was pointing and to wash your hands with hand sanitizer or soap afterwards.
Written by Mathew Reisler