Citizen Science: Turtles

Submitted by Environment Services

Posted on Thursday, June 7, 2018

You may have recently noticed a lot more turtle activity along our roadways and this is because it is now turtle nesting season in our area.

This brings turtles out of the water and onto land in search of the perfect nesting spot, also making it more likely that someone will encounter them on any given day.

Just like with birds and other wildlife, there are citizen science programs in place that allow for everyone to contribute to our knowledge of turtle population sizes and distribution.

General sightings of turtles can be submitted to the Ontario Turtle Tally, which is the primary citizen-based turtle program in Ontario.

The Ontario Turtle Tally’s purpose is to collect, record, and store location and species information on Ontario’s turtles.

Signing up for the Turtle Tally will even get you a free package of resources including a turtle poster, laminated ID guide and much more, and the project welcomes anyone regardless of their relevant knowledge or skills.

All data collected by the Ontario Turtle Tally will help researchers track turtle populations, focus conservation efforts and protect Species at Risk turtles.

Data can also be submitted through the Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas App, which can be installed on your phone and automatically uploads your location and any photos of your sighting.

In addition to reporting your sightings, you can help with turtle conservation by moving a turtle off of a road, though this should only be done if it is safe to do so for both you and other traffic on the road.

When assisting a turtle off a road, remember to always move the turtle in the direction it was travelling. If not, if will likely be back on the road in no time trying to get where it wants to go.

To move a snapping turtle, use what you have (car mat, towel, blanket, stick, or shovel) to carefully and gently carry or drag the turtle across the road. Make sure to keep the turtle close to the ground to avoid dropping it, keep clear of the head to avoid defensive behaviour (snapping), and never lift it by the tail as you may cause more harm than good.

Whatever the turtle, do not disturb it anymore than is necessary to get them to a safer location.

More information can be found at both and