Endangered N.S. turtles get boost from zoo
The endangered Blanding's turtle is getting some help from a zoo in Nova Scotia through a program aimed at giving them a better start in life.
In June, more than 100 Blanding's turtle eggs were moved from Kejimkujik National Park — in the southern half of the province — to the Oaklawn Farm Zoo in Aylesford.
They've since hatched and the tiny turtles are quickly getting stronger and bigger on a steady diet of trout pellets and mealworms.
"There is a very high predation rate and it's estimated that only about one per cent of these hatchlings survive naturally," said Duncan Smith, a biologist with Parks Canada.
"That's why we're seeing if we can bolster that with this incubation and headstarting program."
Blanding's turtles are medium-sized freshwater turtles. Adults have dark-green, high-domed shells with yellow flecks and are easily identified by their distinctive yellow throats and undersides.
The Nova Scotia population of the Blanding's turtle is listed as threatened by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, while the provincial Endangered Species Act lists them as endangered.
Of the 125 Blanding's turtles that were hatched at the Oaklawn Farm Zoo, some have already been taken back to Kejimkujik National Park.
The rest will be released into the wild this weekend, many with radio transmitters attached.
"What that allows us to do is track these turtles for anywhere from three weeks to three months," said Smith.
"That way we can identify what habitats they're using, which is going to be essential to the protection of the turtle and the species long term."