Windsor

Ontario asked to ban hunting for snapping turtles

People in Ontario are allowed to kill two snapping turtles each day, a practice area conservationists and politicians in Essex want stopped.

People can kill two turtles each day and many places across the province allow the hunt year-round

People in Ontario are allowed to kill two snapping turtles each day, a practice area conservationists and politicians in Essex want stopped.

Members of the public have until Jan. 30 to tell Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry whether they want to end the hunt once and for all, versus accepting a government proposal to continuing the hunt with restrictions.

Scott Gillingwater from the Upper Thames Conservation Authority said he is writing to the province to support an end to hunting the prehistoric-looking turtles.

"It sends a confusing message to the public to be able to hunt an animal that many people spend a lot of time and a lot of money to protect wetlands and protect these species, so it seems kind of in vain when these animals are lost due to a legal hunt," he said.

Snapping turtles are listed as a "species of special concern" in Ontario and are the only turtle that can legally be hunted, he added.

In 2012 the Town of Essex led a local effort to halt the hunt, but Coun. Sherry Bondy said they were unsuccessful.

Essex Coun. Sherry Bondy. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

This year the town is trying again and has re-sent their 2012 motion to the ministry.

Unlike other animals, female turtles take a long time to become sexually mature which means they don't lay eggs when they're young, said Bondy.

"Snapping turtles already have so many things coming after them. There are developments and they're dying on the road," she explained. "But they're bottom-feeders that are really important to the food chain."