Windsor

Midland painted turtle considered to be at-risk

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) held a week-long meeting in Windsor recently. One of the animals added to its list of at-risk animals is the midland painted turtle.

Experts discussed status of 44 animals during week-long meeting in Windsor

The midland painted turtle is in trouble. (Joe Crowley/COSEWIC)

More than a quarter of Canada's at-risk species live in southwestern Ontario — and it looks like the official list may get longer.

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) met in Windsor last week to discuss the status of 44 Canadian animals.

"It's really the culmination of two years of work, where we prioritize species that might be at-risk, commission status reports and discuss the status and come to a final decision at this meeting," explained Eric Taylor, a professor at the University of British Columbia and chair of COSEWIC.

One of the animals added to the committee's list was the midland painted turtle, a reptile described by the committee as being "a familiar sight along Ontario lakeshores and ponds." 

The gray ratsnake is Canada's largest — it can be nearly two metres long. The carolinian population of the snake was deemed by COSEWIC to be "endangered." (Danna Leaman/COSEWIC)

The turtle takes a decade to mature and, since it lays a small number of eggs, turtles that are killed can mean a drastic reduction in the population.

"Typically, a large degree of the threat toward these species is roadways," Taylor said. "We witnessed one area right near the Ojibway Prairie Centre ... there were a bunch of midland turtles right in a waterway that was right next to a very busy roadway."

As a result, the committee decided to deem the turtle a species of "special concern."

"Any turtles or snakes that have to cross those roads, their chances of making it to the other side are quite slim," Taylor added.

A complete list of all the species discussed at the Windsor meeting can be found here.

Taylor spoke to Afternoon Drive host Chris dela Torre Thursday about his committee's work. Tap on the player above to hear that conversation.

The committee's findings will be sent to federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna, who will then decide if the species will be fall under the Species at Risk Act.

"Our committee's [work] is really just the first step in what can be a long process to actually get them protection," Taylor said.

About the Author

Jonathan Pinto is a reporter/editor at CBC Windsor, primarily assigned to Afternoon Drive, CBC Radio's regional afternoon show for southwestern Ontario. Email jonathan.pinto@cbc.ca.

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