Meet Earl. He’s a rare find. In fact so rare biologists have equipped him with a radio transmitter so they can keep tabs on him. He’s a wood turtle and his kind is in danger of extinction.
The Clean Annapolis River Project in collaboration with Acadia University and the Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute are conducting wood turtle surveys and stewardship within the Annapolis River watershed (Annapolis and Kings counties).
CARP biologist Carolyn Hann and her team of field assistants and volunteers have spent the last few months searching for wood turtles within the watershed. After weeks of combing through the thick vegetation along many sites the team’s efforts were rewarded when local volunteer Earl Acker spotted one. In honour of this volunteer the male turtle was named Earl.
“It was a great feeling of doing the impossible,” Acker explains about finding the wood turtle. “I never thought I would find a wood turtle so easy as finding Earl. I saw a hole in the sand by the corn and said to myself ‘there must be a turtle around here someplace,’ looked up and there he was -- just looking at me -- it was super.”
Earl the wood turtle was brought back to CARP’s office and fully equipped with a radio transmitter, then released at the site where he was found the following day. Attaching this device will allow CARP to track Earl’s whereabouts weekly. “By equipping Earl with a radio transmitter we will be able to monitor his movements and get a sense of wood turtle activities, home ranges, and preferred habitat types,” said Hann. “These surveys will also allow CARP to gain insight into population size, ages, and sex ratios.”
CARP is also delivering and outreach program to help create awareness and provide education about the wood turtle.
Wood turtles are a species at risk: they are designated as vulnerable under the Nova Scotia Endangered Species Act and threatened under the Federal Species at Risk Act. They are likely to become endangered if nothing is done to reverse the factors leading to their extinction. Common threats to wood turtles in Nova Scotia include agricultural mower blades, loss and degradation of habitat, human disturbances, predators, and road mortality. They are distinguished by a woody looking outer shell and bright orange under arms.
CARP said if you see a have seen a wood turtle don’t disturb it. You can take a photo and call the species at risk hotline toll free 1-866-727-3447 or send an email to email@example.com. If you are interested in volunteering or would like more information please contact Carolyn Hann at CARP at 902-532-7533.
The Clean Annapolis River Project is a charitable organization working towards an ecologically healthy Annapolis River watershed through science, leadership and community engagement. For more information on this and other projects please visit the Clean Annapolis River Projects website at http://www.annapolisriver.ca/.