Parks Canada and the Toronto Zoo release 49 more baby turtles in the Rouge!

On June 28, 2017, the Toronto Zoo, Parks Canada and Toronto and Region Conservation Authority reintroduced another cohort of 49 baby Blanding's turtles to a wetland that will soon be part of Rouge National Urban Park in the Greater Toronto Area – Canada’s first national urban park.

This is the fourth year Blanding’s turtles – a provincially and nationally threatened species – have been released in the park. The program, which began reintroducing baby Blanding’s turtles in June 2014, has now reintroduced 116 baby Blanding’s turtles in total into the wild.

The long-lived species, with a life span of up to 80 years, has inhabited the Rouge Valley for thousands of years, though prior to 2014 its future was uncertain, with as few as six Blanding’s turtles remaining. Blanding’s turtles are an important indicator species for wetland health and Parks Canada is strongly committed to re-establishing a healthy local population in Rouge National Urban Park.

The turtle eggs were collected from a stable source population in southern Ontario in 2014 and have been raised in a controlled environment at the Toronto Zoo over the last two years. The University of Toronto Scarborough has joined this head starting project and is assisting with long-term monitoring of the released turtles.

Parks Canada, the TRCA and the Toronto Zoo believe that this type of head starting and reintroduction of the turtles, along with long-term monitoring and ongoing habitat restoration, are keys to the animal’s survival in the future Rouge National Urban Park.

The public can help protect Blanding’s turtles by avoiding their nesting areas and by contacting authorities if they observe harmful behavior toward turtles or their habitat. To report turtle poaching, please contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Many more Blanding’s turtle releases are planned in the coming years!