The Waterloo Regional Council has approved a plan to protect hundreds of turtles who currently have to risk their lives crossing a busy road between two wetlands.
The township of North Dumfries in Ontario, Canada, is home to over 500 turtles, and every year, many of them die crossing Roseville Road. The road makes for a dangerous crossing for the small amphibious creatures, as it intersects with Barrie’s Lake where the turtles nest.
However, there is now hope for the turtles as the city approved a plan to build special tunnels and fences to help the animals avoid their dangerous commute and pass safely to the other side underground.
As CTV News reports, the plan will work by installing a mixture of fences and culverts to direct the turtles to the underground tunnels and will be placed at two priority locations along the road.
This isn’t the first plan they have implemented to protect the turtles. Previous attempts to divert the vulnerable animals away from passing traffic included implementing special breeding areas, but they proved to be unsuccessful due to too much gravel.
The move comes after a two-year study which examined the turtle population and looked into what can be done to save them. Experts are confident that this new idea will offer a promising solution to help transport the turtles away from the road and prevent them from nesting by the roadside.
One expert who worked on the two-year study believes that without these measures, the turtle population and their habitat may be lost entirely. The animals are already considered one of the most at-risk species in the world.
The cost of the project will be a hefty $200,000, but that didn’t stop the council from unanimously voting to give it the green light. Jane Mitchell, a regional councilor, told CTV that this latest option will stop them from going over the road, and is “another way we are preserving the environment.”
North Dumfries is home to two main kinds of turtle: snapping turtles and painted turtles. Painted turtles are particularly small and difficult to see when crossing the road, as they range in size from 11 to 14cm. The snapping turtle is Canada’s largest freshwater turtle, with an average length of 20-36cm. They are prone to nesting in man-made structures such as roadside shoulders, which this new fencing should help to prevent.
The turtles tend to stay in the wetland during the fall and winter months, but typically attempt to cross Roseville Road more commonly during the summer. Construction of the tunnels and fencing is due to begin in 2019, and it will hopefully prove to be a success.