Skip to main content

Important Area for Amphibians and Reptiles


Barry Gray, the Hamilton Spectator
Photo Courtesy of Environment Canada
Turtles well looked after here
Group forms to help critters get across the road at Cootes Drive

, The Hamilton Spectator
(Jun 25, 2009)

Cootes Paradise at the west end of Hamilton Harbour is now labelled an IMPARA -- an Important Area for Amphibians and Reptiles -- by a national organization concerned with conservation of snakes, salamanders, turtles and similar critters.

As if to prove the designation is deserved, Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) staff found a rare stinkpot turtle (a full-grown male) this spring at the Cootes Paradise Fishway where unwanted carp are turned back to the harbour and desirable species, including turtles, are allowed to enter the marsh.

The stinkpot, or eastern musk turtle, earns its name by releasing a musky, skunk-like smell when disturbed or handled. Growing to no more than 13 centimetres, it is among the smallest turtles in Ontario and threatened both provincially and nationally.

Karla Spence-Diermair, species-at-risk biologist for the RBG, says a stinkpot hasn't been seen in Cootes since 2001, when another was recorded at the fishway.

"We know there used to be a population in Carroll's Bay and Sunfish Pond (near Valley Inn), where they were seen regularly in the 1960s. He's likely a remnant."

RBG properties are also home to:

* Painted turtles, a species that is not endangered. Spence-Diermair says: "They're doing just fine; there are tonnes of them."

* Snapping turtles, listed by Environment Canada as a species of special concern. Numbers here are declining, even though they're regularly seen along roads during nesting season.

* Blanding's turtles, the size of a bike helmet when fully grown, live 80 years or more. Their eggs are favoured by raccoons and skunks. Threatened nationally and provincially.

* Map turtles, reduced to two sites, one in Cootes, the other in Hendrie Valley. Often seen basking on logs and rocks.

* Spiny, soft-shelled turtles, remnants of a population that is almost gone, last caught at the RBG in 2003. Threatened in Canada.

* Red sliders, a non-native species sold as pets and released by their owners. Not threatened. Not wanted.

Some turtles don't breed until they are 20 years old, and females tend to return to the site where they emerged from eggs, even though the landscape changes as roads are built and development spreads.

Many of the Cootes turtles have to cross roads such as Cootes Drive, Olympic Drive and King Street East, where they can be killed by cars and trucks or blocked by curbs until they die.

That's why a Dundas Turtle Watch group has formed, with volunteers already patrolling roadsides to rescue turtles in trouble.

It's has a website under construction that can be found at dundasturtlewatch.wordpress.com. For information, e-mail: dundas turtlewatch@hwcn.org.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Taking a different direction to protect turtles in Cootes

Here's an easy thing you can do that will benefit at local risk-turtles immediately. It's as simple as taking a different route to bypass Cootes and Olympic Drive. This small choice will mean turtles and other wildlife in Cootes Paradise will have a better chance of surviving from being crushed under your vehicle tires.

Take the pledge: http://bit.ly/ProtectTurtlesCootes
Often you might not even be aware you've hit a young turtle, or a snake, for example, yet in the case of turtles, each death means this at-risk group is one death closer to extirpation. Turtles take a long time to reach maturity, and most hatchlings never make it to adulthood so you can see the dilemma.

Please take a minute to pledge your commitment to use an alternate route, and help Restore Cootes and other groups do their part to protect our reptile friends. A previous survey showed that 70% of respondents would do this for the turtles. Hopefully you will join them!

Thanks in advance for your support!


Loa…

The Social Sciences Take on Lot M!

Guest Blogger: Carly Stephens 
Since its inception, Parking to Paradise has been a platform for interdisciplinary collaboration. Many readers are familiar with the Ancaster Creek riparian buffer and restoration work along the Northwest border of the parking lot. Interested parties across many faculties and disciplines have worked together to restore this ecosystem and raise awareness about the impacts urbanization on the natural environment. Nurtured by the time, commitment and hard work donated by volunteers and students, the land has grown into a site of green infrastructure, ecosystem restoration, and sustainable development. Read about Reyna Matties' Master’s work on retrofitting storm water management systems on the lot in the December 7, 2015 post below. Now, it’s the social sciences turn to learn where green infrastructure developments - as with the case of Lot M - fits into our social world.

My research involves exploring the various roles that green space plays in our urb…

Coldspring Valley History Hike: Water Innovation Week

We're heading back out to share the history of this former floodplain/nature sanctuary, and take a look at the rehabilitated future of this contested site in McMaster's west campus. Can we really depave Paradise? It's happening!

Register on Eventbrite: http://bit.ly/waterweekwalk2017 (by donation)