(Jim Elliot - Black Press Media)

‘Give turtles a brake’: Conservation group asking motorists to slow down

Nature Conservancy of Canada is asking people to slow down and help turtles cross the road

As COVID-19 restrictions ease and more people are getting back on the road, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is asking travellers to slow down for wildlife, especially the endangered western painted turtle.

Turtle populations are vulnerable to collisions along roads and highways, particularly in B.C.’s Okanagan region where the combination of turtle-supporting wetland and high-traffic roads results in many turtle deaths each year. The western painted turtle is considered a species at risk by the Committee of the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, and incidents like vehicular deaths can put the entire population at greater risk.

In West Kelowna on Westlake Road, May and June have already seen several turtles crushed by vehicles as they try to cross the road from one wetland to another. There is signage in the area telling drivers to slow down and currently, the City of West Kelowna is in the process of installing trail cams in the area to observe the turtles and figure out how to best help them cross the road.

“Turtles are not just adorable, they’re an important part of wetland ecosystems,” NCC program director Kristyn Ferguson said.

“They help keep wetlands clean and healthy by eating dead plants, insects and animals, and play the role of the wetland janitor.”

Travellers will sometimes encounter turtles on busy roads in major centres or on back roads where there may be wetlands. According to the nature conservancy, turtles can wander as far as 10 kilometres between May and October. They set out to mate in the spring, with newly hatched turtles travelling from their nest to a nearby wetland or body of water in late summer and early fall.

The nature conservancy is asking motorists who see turtles on the road to slow down and drive around them. If it’s safe to do so, motorists are encouraged to pull over and move the turtle in the direction it was going.

READ: City of West Kelowna to install trail cams to monitor turtle crossing at Westlake Road

READ: Okanagan painted turtle the victim of ‘cowardly attack’


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
Follow me on Twitter

Wildlife

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

First responders at a crash scene near Rossland on Thursday, Oct. 22. Photo: Trail RCMP
First snow in West Kootenay causes vehicle collisions

The Trail and Greater District RCMP’s weekly brief contains details on collisions

There has been COVID-19 exposures at two elementary schools in District 42. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 24 additional COVID-19 cases

This includes three school exposures in Kelowna

The village is looking to install another 91 metres of breakwater at the marina. Photo: JD Mah
Village staff applying for $2.1 million in grants to complete three infrastructure projects

Projects include new biomass system at arena, breakwater and stormwater repairs

Enrolment is up overall in the district. Photo: Nakusp Elementary School
Enrolment at SD 10 schools skyrocket

Enrolment numbers have increased by 10 percent between Sept. 2019 and Sept. 2020

Katrine Conroy has won for the fifth time in the Kootenay West riding. Photo: Submitted
Katrine Conroy ready to tackle challenges after election

Conroy won the Kootenay West riding for the fifth time

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Pixabay photo
‘Horrific’ abuse of volunteers, staff by parents must stop: Chilliwack soccer club

Parents have become abusive after being told COVID-19 rules, email says

FILE – The Queen of Alberni ferry leaves the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal in Delta bound for Vancouver Island, Sunday, July 29, 2007. (CP PHOTO/Richard Lam) CANADA
Mechanical failure leaves nearly 200 passengers stranded on BC Ferries ship for hours

A tug arrived after dark to safely nudge the vessel into a berth so travellers could finally disembark

Ridge Meadows RCMP (Black Press)
Maple Ridge X-ray tech convicted of sexual assault dating back 30 years

Allen James Brooks is expected to be sentenced in January 2021

BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson leaves the stage after announcing he is stepping down as party leader, during a news conference in Burnaby, B.C., on Monday, October 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Too rural, not enough diversity, soul searching needed, say BC Liberals

Elections BC says there are about 600,000 mail-in and absentee ballots across the province still to count

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes his way to provide an update on the COVID pandemic in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. Canada has reached a grim milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic, surpassing 10,000 novel coronavirus deaths. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Alberta COVID deaths pushes Canada past milestone of 10,000 deaths

Canada crossed the threshold of 5,000 deaths on May 12, a little over two months after the first was reported

An elderly woman wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past an advertisement for a television series in Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. has been under a COVID-19 state of emergency for more than half the year

Province has been under a state of emergency for 32 weeks – and counting

Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 to win the baseball World Series in Game 6 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
L.A. Dodgers beat Rays 3-1 to win 1st World Series title since 1988

National League champs claim crown in six games

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

Most Read