• John Jantak

Ecomuseum Zoo will lead Map Turtle conservation program

PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Sébastien Rouleau, Coordinator of Research and Conservation at the Ecomuseum Zoo, said the zoo has partnered with Broccolini Construction and the Village of Senneville to lead a conservation program aimed at protecting the endangered Map Turtle population on Girwood Island.

The Ecomuseum Zoo, in partnership with Broccolini Construction and the Village of Senneville, will lead a conservation program aimed at protecting the endangered Map Turtle population on Girwood Island just off the western tip of Senneville. Sébastien Rouleau, Coordinator of Research and Conservation at the Ecomuseum Zoo, said he’s pleased with the arrangement and particularly with Broccolini’s involvement and financial contribution of just under $60,000 which will enable to zoo to take proactive measures to conserve one of the region’s last remaining large Map Turtle populations.

“During our research, we found a lot of turtles there,” Rouleau told Your Local Journal. “We found over 100 female turtles during the summer and there’s a nesting site on the island. There are a lot of raccoons too. “Our idea is to provide additional nesting sites in order to limit predation,” added Rouleau. “During the project, we will monitor the nesting sites and if predation becomes an issue, we’re going to put a predatory exclusion device to help the turtles and their eggs survive.”

Rouleau said the nesting sites will be monitored and if a predatory animal is spotted, a small square mesh barrier shaped like a small cage will be erected atop the nest to protect the eggs. “It will be designed with openings big enough for the turtles, but small enough to at least keep big raccoons away to limit predation,” he said. “It’s not going to be 100 per cent effective, but at least it will help.”

The Ecomuseum zoo previously conducted a two year study beginning in 2009 that monitored the activity of the Map Turtles in the Lake of Two Mountains region using radio-telemetry by placing transmitters on the turtles and following them with a radio and a receiver to determine the state of the turtles’ natural habitats.

“We found there’s not a lot of nesting sites left in the lake,” said Rouleau. “This is why just about all turtle species are at risk in the region. A lot of habitats have been lost because of modifications made to the shoreline through development such as the construction of concrete walls. The turtles also have deal with boats and jet-skis.”

The natural pristine woodlands and shoreline along Girwood Island provides the ideal location for the Ecomuseum Zoo to launch its conservation program and will hopefully ensure the turtles will continue to thrive, Rouleau said. “Turtles like wooded and natural areas close to the water where they have logs and rocks to bask on,” he said.

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