painted turtle
Photo by Ahturner/Shutterstock.com

Mysterious turtle deaths raise questions in Lethbridge

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Over the weekend, four painted turtles were found destroyed near the Elizabeth Hall Wetlands in Alberta. Ryan Heavy Head, an ecological and rattlesnake consultant, received a message about the turtles and sent someone to investigate.

“All I received was a close up image of the one turtle, it looked to me like a malicious act but then I had a friend come out here and look at this scenario, he immediately surmised that the mowers had hit the turtle,” he told Global News.  “He could only find the one turtle not the four that were reported but the one that he saw was laying right in the path of the mower.”

Heavy Head has brought up the issue of mowing in the past, stating that the area shouldn’t be mowed at all during this time.

“It’s really a bad time to be mowing. Right now is the peak season for all the animals’ reproductions. The turtles are coming out on the shore to lay their eggs. They’re very slow. They can’t get out of the way of the mower.”

The City of Lethbridge, however, doesn’t agree with Heavy Head’s assessment of the cause of death.

“Somebody drew the conclusion that it was the mowers that killed them,” Dave Ellis, the city’s Park Manager, told the Lethbridge Herald. “But the pictures I’ve seen—and I know staff have gone down and found some of them—the injuries there, the damage done to the turtle shell, that’s not at all consistent to the damage that would be caused by a mower. They hadn’t been chopped, they’d been crushed. Which leads us to believe it was something more intentional, which is even more upsetting.”

In a statement, the City of Lethbridge is asking residents for any information on the deaths of these turtles.