On display at Turtle Day

Elizabeth Lake a primary nesting area for the blue-listed Western Painted Turtle.

Angus Glass

Angus Glass

The Western Painted Turtle was on full display on Tuesday afternoon at Elizabeth Lake as biologists and volunteers spent the afternoon educating the public about the creatures.

Set up by the rest area on the west end of the city, the displays included live turtles, shells and eggs. Wildsafe BC was also present with some animal skulls and pelts.

Roughly 130 school students came down to the lake in the morning to learn about the turtles before the displays opened up to the public in the afternoon.

Turtle Day is all about connecting people with the environment and the Western Painted Turtle because they’re a pretty cool creature,” said Angus Glass, the communications coordinator for the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program. “They’re right at the northern edge of their range in North America.

“Today is all about making sure people are aware of how cool the turtle is, how beautiful they are and how fragile they are because they are under considerable challenges from a variety of different quarters, whether it’s predation or human impact…”

At this time of year, turtles are hatching from mid-April to mid-May. In June, the females will lay their eggs in the nests and head back to the water. For the next 11 months, the eggs will remain in the nests until hatching.

Adult turtles can live in the wild for more than 55 years and fossils have shown that painted turtles existed 15 million years ago.

Glass says that Elizabeth Lake is an important area for turtle habitat.

“Elizabeth Lake is a real key nesting place for Western Painted Turtles and there’s a number of lakes around the East Kootenay area that are prime areas for Western Painted Turtles,” Glass said.

About 14 years ago, the Rocky Mountain Naturalists became concerned about turtles coming up out of the lake and crossing the highway as they searched for nesting areas. Crossing the highway resulted in higher mortality rates, which was affecting the population, said Glass.

To solve the problem, a fence was installed down the bank from the highway, which prevented the turtles from crossing the road. A small sandy beachhead was prepared to allow turtles to create nesting areas closer to the lake.

“Before this fence was built alongside the road, they’d go hundreds of metres from the road,” said Glass. “They’re really good walkers, they can cover quite a distance. “We’ve actually forced them to nest closer to the lake by putting up that fence and keeping them off the highway because mortality has been quite significant.

The lake is good, it’s a great size, there’s lots of food, [and] the population, I believe, is quite stable.”

While Elizabeth Lake seems to have a stable population of the Western Painted Turtle, the species is blue-listed, meaning it is vulnerable and endangered. Human development and the ever-shrinking wetland habitat has been large contributors to their blue-list status. Invasive weeds have also been a factor, as the weeds will grow around the nest and trap the hatchlings.

The biggest thing to stopping the decline of the turtles is awareness of their habitat and their fragility, said Glass.

“By ensuring that we don’t move into their territory too much and respect their ability to move back into ours a little bit, I think that will help,” he said.

 

Just Posted

Vendors and customers at one of the Cranbrook markets in 2020. (Corey Bullock/Cranbrook Townsman file)
Cranbrook Farmers Market updates operating hours for the summer

Markets will continue to run from 10a.m. to 1p.m. until October 30th

City council passed first reading of a text amendment to a downtown zoning bylaw that would permit the land use for a craft brewery. Photo courtesy City of Cranbrook.
Downtown zoning amendment allowing craft brewery passes first reading

An application is moving forward that will tweak a downtown zoning bylaw… Continue reading

City council deferred moving forward on a proposed development in Wildstone, requesting a meeting with the developer to get clarification on project details. Photo submitted.
Cranbrook city council debates proposed Wildstone development

Cranbrook city council held off on moving forward with a proposed apartment… Continue reading

Interior Health is reporting a COVID-19 exposure at Selkirk Secondary in Kimberley. Bulletin file.
COVID-19 case identified at Selkirk Secondary in Kimberley

Interior Health is conducting contact tracing

Cranbrook Arts will finally open the doors to their brand new gallery space on Friday, June 18th, 2021 at 4pm. To see what is behind these doors, be sure to check out the exhibit, Kootenay's Best, running until Labour Day weekend. (Cranbrook Arts file)
Cranbrook Arts’ inaugural exhibit, Kootenay’s Best, opens this Friday

The exhibit features over 50 Kootenay-based artists and will run until Labour Day Weekend

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
VIDEO: Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

St. Joseph's Mission site is located about six kilometres from Williams Lake First Nation. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake First Nation to search residential school site for unmarked graves

St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School operated from 1886 to 1981

Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lotto Max jackpot goes unclaimed again

42 of the 64 Maxmillion prizes of $1 million were won, the majority were sold in Ontario

FILE - This July 6, 2017 file photo shows prescription drugs in a glass flask at the state crime lab in Taylorsville, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
Contaminants in generic drugs may cause long-term harm to DNA: B.C. researcher

Scientist says findings suggest high volume overseas facilities require strict regulation

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., on April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Labour shortages, closed borders major obstacles to B.C. restaurant, tourism restarts

Industry expert says it won’t start to recover until international travellers can visit

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Grace (left), a caribou that was born in a maternal pen north of Revelstoke, is alive and well said the province. It appears she even has a calf. Maternity pens aim to increase caribou calf survival by protecting them from predation until they are older and less vulnerable. (Contributed)
For the first time in years, caribou numbers increasing near Revelstoke

North herd growing but south herd still concerning

Most Read