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Shout hooray for Turtle Day

The Western Painted Turtle, one of the familiar denizens of local waters. - Angus Glass photo
The Western Painted Turtle, one of the familiar denizens of local waters.
— image credit: Angus Glass photo

Angus Glass/For the Townsman

The Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP), with support from the Rocky Mountain Naturalists, is holding the first ever "Turtle Day" at Elizabeth Lake between 3 and 5 p.m. on Wednesday, May 14.

The public is invited to drop in and learn more about the amazing Western Painted Turtle and, perhaps, get up close and personal with a turtle hatchling or two.

"The Western Painted Turtle has a fascinating life cycle and has evolved some extraordinary adaptations to survive in this area, especially given our long winters," says FWCP-Columbia program manager, Trevor Oussoren.

"The event is a great opportunity to share this information so that we can better understand the natural history of this Blue-listed, or vulnerable, species."

The FWCP in the Columbia region is a partnership between BC Hydro, the Province of B.C., First Nations and the public to conserve and enhance fish and wildlife impacted by the construction of BC Hydro dams. Wetlands are among FWCP's priority habitats for attention, and previous projects have helped improve turtle habitat near Revelstoke, Nelson, Baynes Lake, Argenta and at Elizabeth Lake.

The event will feature information, displays, and spotting scopes, and will provide an opportunity for residents to talk with biologists from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations about Painted Turtles and other species that reside in and around, Elizabeth Lake.

Cranbrook's 2010 Citizen of the Year, and Rocky Mountain Naturalist member Art Gruenig, will be on-hand to show the turtle nesting grounds and, if timing is right, a few freshly-hatched turtles. He has been monitoring and protecting the nesting area for more than twenty years and takes extreme pride in trying to give the adults and hatchlings the very best opportunity to survive and thrive.

"We are hoping to show the public some turtle hatchlings but Mother Nature might not be on our side this year," said Gruenig. "In the 20 years I have been monitoring the turtle nesting grounds, I have never seen the water levels as high as this and, right now, about two-thirds of the nesting area is submerged. At this stage we do not know what impact this might have on the survival of the hatchlings."

If you are interested learning more about, or joining, the Rocky Mountain Naturalists contact Lois Gruenig 250-426-8349.  For more information about Turtle Day or the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program, call 250-352-1300, or email

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