Community members are being asked to help ensure the survival of the spectacular western painted turtles by reporting their turtle sightings. The Sunshine Coast is home to one of the largest remaining populations of this federally endangered species.
Local researchers, Dave Stiles and Michelle Evelyn, leaders of the Sunshine Coast Wildlife Project, are trying to pinpoint turtle nest sites to better understand nesting habitat use and to protect and enhance nesting grounds.
"We rely on the community to help us find these nesting turtles," said Stiles. "June is the heart of nesting season. Please call us right away if you see a turtle walking along a road or shoreline, or digging in the ground."
Private landowners can feel comfortable reporting turtle sightings.
Turtle observations on private property are kept confidential and used only for research purposes. However, some landowners might consider joining the Turtle Stewardship Program and working with the project leaders to maintain and enhance turtle habitat on their property.
"We are so grateful to our private turtle stewards," added Evelyn. "These turtles have lived in this region for generations and are a vital part of our local heritage. If you are lucky enough to have turtles on your property, it is a wonderful thing."
Unfortunately, nesting season is a very dangerous time of year for turtles. Females are killed on roads when they leave lakes to search for suitable nest sites. The Wildlife Project is trying to pinpoint sites of road mortality and take action to reduce this threat.
To report a turtle sighting call 604-989-1007 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Wildlife Project is an initiative of the Iris Griffith Centre and the University of British Columbia Biodiversity Research Centre with funding from the Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk. To learn more, visit www.coastwildlife.ca.