May 23 was World Turtle Day and members of the Sunshine Coast Wildlife Project celebrated this past week by weeding nesting beaches to prepare them for turtle nesting season. Every year from late May to early July, female western painted turtles leave the water of their Pender Harbour area lakes to build nests on land.
With the help of volunteers and community partners, the Wildlife Project has built over a dozen new nesting beaches during the past decade to increase available habitat, decrease road mortality, and increase survival of this precious species. These new nest sites are now favoured by turtles and produce hundreds of baby turtles each year.
Observing a nesting turtle is an unforgettable experience and essential to understanding and conserving this imperilled species. Residents are asked to report their sightings of turtles wandering on land, crossing the road, or digging in the ground by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 604-989-1007. Volunteer opportunities are also available to help monitor key nesting sites.
Painted turtles are federally threatened, provincially red-listed, and protected by the B.C. Wildlife Act. It is illegal to touch turtles or remove them from their lakes. For more information about local efforts to ensure the survival of this species at risk, see www.coastwildlife.ca or www.facebook.com/coastwildlife.
– Submitted by Michelle Evelyn