Kids 4 Turtles started something really big…
Last year, Kids 4 Turtles, a local group of young children, initiated local concern for turtles and raised almost five thousand dollars to purchase turtle crossing signs in an effort to reduce road mortality. Inspired by Kids 4 Turtles, the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre was created by concerned community residents to continue the kid’s efforts in turtle conservation. “The energy and enthusiasm of this project is incredible, it is amazing to see community residents, young and old, helping to get this project off the ground,” says Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre Chair and Peterborough veterinarian, Kristy Hiltz. The Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre opened its doors for injured native turtles on Monday June 3rd.
The Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre has a threefold mandate: provide medical, surgical and rehabilitative care to injured turtles; educate the public on the plight of Ontario turtle populations and the value of their role in the environment; and to provide assistance to recovery programs already in existence for turtles as identified as “at risk” by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).
“We have such diverse talent working on this project - Jack Sisson and Steve Thexton from the Peterborough Zoo; Brian Noble a veterinarian from the Champlain Animal Hospital; Joe Cebek, a biology professor from Trent University; Brian Short a herpetologist; Bry Loyst from the Indian Reptile Zoo; and Susan Cooper, media and fundraising advisor from the Otonabee Conservation Foundation,” remarks Hiltz.
Turtles play a vital role in aquatic ecosystems and act as an indicator species for environmental problems due to the unique niche they occupy, inhabiting both aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Peterborough County has a significant area of lakes, rivers and wetlands, and turtles are a vital component of these ecosystems.
Should you see an injured turtle, ensure your personal safety before trying to help the turtle. Pull over on the side of the road and be careful of the traffic around you. If at all possible, please wear gloves and use a shovel to relocate the turtle to a safe environment.
Reptiles are likely to harbor Salmonella and people should always wash their hands immediately after handling a reptile, even if the reptile is healthy. If you are transporting the turtle to the centre, please place the turtle in a large box/container. The staff at the turtle drop off centres will help you move the injured turtle from your vehicle. Please note the location of where you found the turtle so that it may be reintroduced to its natural environment when recovered.
The central drop off centre is the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre located at the Riverview Park & Zoo (1230 Water Street North) and is open from Monday – Friday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.
Secondary drop off centres for injured turtles are: (1) the Champlain Animal Hospital 742-4243 (8:00 am – 4:00 pm; weekdays); (2) the Indian River Reptile Zoo 639-1443 (10:00 am – 5:00 pm; daily); and (3) the Peterborough Pet Hospital 742-8837 (8:00 am – 4:00 pm: weekdays.
The Riverview Park and Zoo has kindly donated a vacant building and personnel where the injured turtles will be examined and treated by veterinarians (from Peterborough Pet Hospital and the Champlain Animal Hospital) until they are able to be released.
The Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre is in great need of financial assistance. Funding is required for turtle tanks, heat lamps, feed requirements, and various other equipment. Please contact Susan Cooper at 745-5791 for more information on how you can help the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre.