conservation activists save turtles
Photo by Bruce Reeve/CBC

Long Point hamlet bands together to save endangered Blanding’s turtles

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The unique 40 kilometre sand spit at southern Ontario’s Long Point beach draws thousands of tourists in the summer months, all clamouring to experience this UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. But with this influx of visitors, roadways become dangerous for the extensive wildlife in the area, especially frogs, snakes, and even the endangered Blanding’s turtle.

Through the use of decoy snakes, turtles, and ordinary objects in a 2005 study, it was determined that three percent of people would intentionally swerve to hit an animal on the road.

“People in the community said ‘Enough is enough. We’re tired of seeing this annual carnage on the road, and we’re going to set about trying to figure out if there’s some way we can deal with it and stop it,'” Rick Levick, a member of the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve Foundation, told CBC.

After raising $2.5 million over 10 years, community members and conservation activists finally completed their project. By erecting fences and culverts, the residents created a safe means of travel for the little creatures. Their efforts payed off, with almost 89 percent fewer turtles making it onto the treacherous causeway.

“We didn’t know when we started out what impact we could have,” Levick said. “But to achieve a reduction of 80 to 90 percent mortality is just amazing. That was the biggest surprise; that we could actually make that big an impact.”

And it’s not only snakes and turtles benefitting from this new system—larger animals such as weasels and minks have been known to pass through.

Thank you to the residents of Long Point who made this happen!