One of the biggest risks an animal can take is Haliburton County is crossing a road.
On Nov. 15, The Land Between and Scales Nature Park worked together to make the journey for turtles just a safer one.
Using an excavator donated by Minden Rental, the two conservation groups dug out roadside fill and installed recycled metal barricades, welded from metal barrels. It’s all part of a system guiding turtles towards culverts, where they can cross under a road safely.
“It’s a turtle tunnel, basically,” said Leora Berman, The Land Between founder. “The shape can be backfilled and the road becomes permeable: any wildlife on the road can get off.”
They’re testing the system on a stretch of wetland-adjacent Glamorgan road, to see how the interlocking barriers handle winter frost.
“The issue with one large piece is it can shift, and that creates major maintenance issues,” said Berman.
There are 96 spots in the County that The Land Between and the Haliburton Land Trust have identified as needing turtle crossings.
Some, Berman said, don’t currently have culverts linking areas of wetlands, which poses an increased risk to the area’s turtle population.
“It’s really important that we have culverts so turtles can reach all parts of their territories,” Berman said.
All of Ontario’s turtle species are at risk. In the last 20 years, turtle populations have declined by more than 50 per cent; with drivers behind the vast majority of deaths.