Land Trust volunteers and landowners conserve Carolinian reptiles come wind, rain or snow
(Port Rowan, 22 February 2011) Over the last two years, volunteers and staff from the Long Point Basin Land Trust (LPBLT) have been working with landowners, the public, conservation groups and countless partners to help our region’s imperilled turtle and snake populations. And, even in the depths of wintry weather, LPBLT and friends have been busy helping reptiles and creating reptile habitat.
“The central Carolinian Region along Lake Erie’s north shore is home to an incredible diversity of 19 reptile species,” says Gregor Beck, conservation science director for LPBLT. “But declining populations of numerous species highlight the fact that these ancient creatures need our help.”
Six of the seven turtles and fifty percent of the snake species in our region are now listed at risk. Habitat loss, habitat degradation, road kill, persecution, and illegal poaching are all factors in the decline. The Long Point Basin’s reptile fauna ranges from the tiny, endangered Spotted Turtle (~10cm) and diminutive Red-bellied Snake (~25cm) to the large Spiny Softshell Turtle (24-42cm) and Eastern Foxsnake (~150cm). On the bright side, several groups including LPBLT, numerous landowners and members of the public are coming to the aid of the region’s turtles and snakes. Helping reptiles can be as simple as slowing down to avoid turtles or snakes on the road, especially near critical wetland and woodland habitats.
To help gain a better understanding of reptile species’ biology, LPBLT has been encouraging the public to report turtle and snake sightings through their website: www.longpointlandtrust.ca. Sightings can be reported at any time and LPBLT welcomes reports from 2010 and years prior. The regional reptile reporting program is helping to identify important habitat areas and develop local strategies to recover populations. To date, over 150 people have reported to the program, submitting over 1,000 observations of turtles and snakes.
While Long Point Basin turtles and snakes hibernate for winter, LPBLT volunteers and staff are busy creating reptile habitats, compiling results from the reptile reporting program, and making plans for renewed reptile recovery efforts this spring. In areas of high road mortality, LPBLT works with landowners and partners to create or restore turtle and snake habitats. These habitats include reptile nesting structures and underground snake wintering habitats called hibernacula. The intent of these efforts is to reduce the distance reptiles have to travel to find safe nesting or wintering habitat, thereby reducing mortality on roads or from predators. In addition to these small-scale habitats, LPBLT continues to work on larger habitat restoration efforts.
“Success of conservation efforts for reptiles and other native wildlife depends on the support and participation of landowners and the public,” concludes Beck. “Long Point Basin Land Trust extends its thanks to everyone who helps nature and we encourage people to learn more about these efforts in our upcoming newsletter.”
To learn more about the project, visit www.longpointlandtrust.ca and sign up for the ViewPoint newsletter, which is available by email or in print.
For further information, please contact: Gregor Beck: Phone 519-718-2910; email: email@example.com
Long Point Basin Land Trust: P.O. Box 468, Port Rowan, ON N0E 1M0; visit: longpointlandtrust.ca
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Long Point Basin Land Trust is a charitable non-government organization which protects and restores important natural habitats in the Carolinian Region. It promotes conservation through outreach, research, habitat restoration and species at risk recovery. The Trust owns two nature reserves and works with landowners and conservation groups to steward natural areas.
Long Point Basin Land Trust’s Conserving Carolinian Reptiles project is undertaken with the financial assistance of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources’ Species at Risk Stewardship Fund, the Government of Canada provided through the Department of the Environment, the John & Pat McCutcheon Charitable Foundation, the Fred Eaglesmith Annual Charity Picnic, individuals, and conservation partners.