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The Bad News Turtles

RBG asks city to help protect Cootes turtles

Hamilton Spectator
By Matthew Van Dongen

The city is being asked to cut speed limits and erect wildlife fences to help save rare turtles from death-by-motorist along Cootes Drive and Olympic Drive.

The Royal Botanical Gardens has spent five years working on a recovery plan for turtles around Cootes Paradise and area marshes.

An estimated 1,500 turtles remain there.

Dozens have been killed along Cootes Drive and Olympic Drive over the last several years, according to a map presented by RBG natural lands head Tys Theysmeyer at the public works committee Tuesday.

The city can help head off those deaths, he said, by reducing the speed limit along Cootes Drive to 60 km/h from 80 and setting up wildlife fences to "redirect" turtles intent on heading from the marsh to high ground to nest.

"We think it would make a significant difference," Theysmeyer said after the meeting. "Slowing down at least gives you (the motorist) a chance to realize you're about to squash a turtle."

Experimental fencing already set up in the area by the RBG has proven effective, he added.

Other suggestions pitched Tuesday include:
  • a slight relocating of the Dundas Community Garden, which has proven a popular nesting ground for turtles;
  • cleanup of historic contamination in the west end of the Desjardins canal;
  • removal of an old weir and other infrastructure replacement in the canal;
  • creation of a wildlife corridor committee to study and deal with hot spots for turtle kills based on the latest road death statistics.
City staff will report back on the recommendations, but not before the upcoming election.

mvandongen@thespec.com
905-526-3241 | @Mattatthespec

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