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Jun. 23, 2021 | Wednesday
Local News
Concession 6 bridge is deadly crossing spot for painted turtles
Several turtles were killed by vehicles on Concession 6, including two on the shoulder on the right. (Dan Plomish photo)

When Dan Plomish pulled over to help a female turtle across Concession 6, he found nine more adult turtles dead on the pavement, crushed by vehicles.

The unfortunate victims of road collisions were mostly female painted turtles, which were likely trying to access nesting sites.

These turtles may be active and preparing to lay their eggs until mid-July. They often display site fidelity, which means they return year-after-year to almost the exact same spot to give birth.

Plomish stopped at the old railway bridge on Concession 6 near Niagara Falls. When he posted about the turtles on the NOTL 4 All Facebook group, it sparked an overwhelming response.

The post of the shocking find received almost 100 comments and was shared 60 times. Many town residents chimed in with disbelief and sorrow at the grim sight.

Facebook poster Michelle Paul said she also spotted several turtles at the same location and pulled over to help them safely across.

“I picked up the one turtle and brought it to the ditch. I was walking up the shoulder of the bridge to get the second one, which was near the centre median.”

To her dismay, “I watched a man in a white work van look at the turtle, look at me and keep on driving. He saw the turtle and made no attempt to go around. There was no oncoming traffic," she said.

"He also seemed to be going faster than 60 (km/h). It made me very angry,” she said.

Both Paul and Plomish noticed several of the crushed turtles were on the shoulder of the road. It looked as if “someone went out of their way to do that,” she said.

Female painted turtles take up to 15 years to reach maturity before they can lay eggs. Large mortality events like this can set populations back substantially when many members of a generation are lost all at once.

In fact, so many painted turtles are killed by road vehicles that they are now considered a "species of special concern" in Canada. Sometimes, the turtles bask in warm areas or attempt to nest in the gravel on road shoulders.

After reading Plomish's post, members of the town’s environmental advisory committee brought the matter to the attention of town staff and chief administrator Marnie Cluckie.

In the coming weeks, The Lake Report's "Keeping It Green" column will provide updates on mitigation measures to be implemented at the site, as well as practical tips for turtle rescues.

Plomish hopes the information he shared will make a difference. “I’m so happy this Facebook post brought it to so many people’s attention and hopefully some good comes out of all this.”

He urges everyone to keep a close eye out and brake for wildlife on roads. “It takes no time to slow down and take five minutes out of your day to do the right thing.”

Environmental columnist Kyra Simone writes the Keeping it Green column for The Lake Report.

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