Look at the panels of the 4 turtles, the nesting boxes are now available

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Long Point volunteer John Everett will once again be distributing a limited number of signs and nest boxes from the Long Point Biosphere “Watch 4 Turtles” area during this year’s nesting season.

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“We’re sort of an awareness campaign with the Watch 4 Turtles panels,” Everett said.

If you have a sign from years past, now would be a great time to take it out and place it on your lawn.

Most years turtle nesting begins the first week of May if the weather is warm enough and the nesting season continues through July. This year, the spring was colder.

“They’re not really nesting right now,” Everett noted.

“The turtles aren’t moving right now due to the cooler weather, but when people see turtles they’ll contact me and we’ll flood the area with ‘Watch 4 Turtles’ signs.

The panels are free, Jan Everett said.

Contact John via text to arrange pickup or delivery in Norfolk County at 519-777-2873.

“If we get a few people from Tillsonburg who want some, we’ll make a trip to deliver them,” he said.

Jan Everett of Long Point is the author of two children's books - Never Give Up and Keep Going.  CHRIS ABOTT
Jan Everett of Long Point is the author of two children’s books – Never Give Up and Keep Going. CHRIS ABOTT jpg, TN

NEVER ABANDON

John and his wife Jan have been partners with the Long Point Biosphere Region since 2013, when Jan wrote a children’s book, Never Give Up, honoring John’s efforts to save turtles. Over 4,000 books have been sold worldwide over the years.

“We’re traveling across southern Ontario to promote the book and save the turtles,” John said. “We had brought books to Point Pelee National Park (near Leamington) about four years ago and saw these ‘caged things’ on the side of the road. So we stopped, took a photo, drove back to Long Point and showed them to Rick Levick, Long Point Pavement Improvement Project Manager and former Biosphere Chair. He thought it was a great idea.

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Thirty cages were built locally, and when people saw turtles laying eggs, they could ask for a cage.

“Due to the high water levels we’ve been experiencing for the past 3-4 years, the turtles have moved to higher ground,” John noted. “So they lay their eggs here on people’s cottage properties.”

Nesting boxes help protect the eggs from predators, primarily raccoons and foxes.

“A turtle lays its eggs and then leaves the area, and it takes about 90 to 120 days for the eggs to hatch. The cage therefore protects them from predators.

The number 2 problem for turtle mortality is the roads, and that is why the signage and awareness campaign is important.

“It’s a perfect two-pronged thing – the panels and the boxes,” Jan agreed.

“Three years ago Rick Levick thought of the idea of ​​a sign and we got 100 signs and we gave them out to people,” John said. “They are very, very popular.”

They handed out another 100 signs two years ago.

“The look so cute on your lawn,” smiles Jan.

Another 100 panels and 30 cages are available this year.

John remembers getting a call in Long Point about a snapping turtle on a cottage property. He suggested to “let him do what he wanted to do”.

The next day he received another call. The turtle had laid eggs, so he brought a nesting blanket panel and cage. Ninety days later, the eggs hatched and the family saw 19 baby turtles emerge from the nest. The baby turtles were taken in a bucket to the swamp for protection.

“Their grandchildren named the babies when they came out,” John said. “And they ran out of names!”

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“It was an event,” laughed Jan. “So cute.”

It is beneficial to have turtles in the ecosystem – even snapping turtles.

“They are nature’s vacuum cleaners,” John said. “They are the janitors. They clean up all the wrecks and jetsam in the swamp. They eat dead vegetation and dead animals, which removes harmful bacteria from the water. Snapping turtles are more than any other because they can last 60-70 years and they are big.

“And they eat a lot,” added Jan.

“If you have a healthy turtle population, you have a healthy ecosystem,” John said.

“The turtles cross the road three times a year. Once to lay their eggs. Once in mid-June to find their summer habitat, then in the fall to hibernate.

To help promote turtle mortality prevention, Environment Canada is posting new metal wildlife awareness signs for turtles and snakes near “hot spots” and much larger “Drive Safely” road signs (6 ft x 8 ft).

“They have the data, they know where the hotspots are, where the turtles are crossing the road,” John said. “They’re going to be putting up their signs very soon, and this project is just as important, if not more important, than what we’re doing.”

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