World Turtle News, 12/14/2018
Canadian researchers put secretive turtle on risk radar
The eastern musk turtle is easily overlooked. It basks in vegetation near the water’s surface.
That makes it hard to see.
Unfortunately for the turtles, this also means they are easily overlooked for protection.
A recent study by Canada’s McMaster University sheds new light on the status and protection needs of this secretive species in Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay.
The main threats to the turtles are recreational boating, development and loss of shoreline habitat and fisheries by-catch, according to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.
The study concluded that development and habitat loss are among the main threats in the Georgian Bay area. Eastern musk turtles are more likely to occupy coastal wetlands with greater amounts of forest cover and lower densities of docks, cottages and roads, the study concluded.
“Anthropogenic influences, specifically shoreline modifications, have a very negative influence on the turtles,” said, Julia Rutledge, co-author of the study.
“Regulating that type of development within a certain range of the wetlands would have a positive influence on the longevity of the species.”
The turtle is limited to eastern North America, from Florida to southern Ontario. Its range includes parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.
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Photo from Julia Rutledge.