Snapping turtle hunt permanently banned across Ontario
Friday, April 28, 2017, 2:58 PM - Snapping turtles are among Canada's most at-risk species, and in Ontario the reptiles face a heightened threat every day. In addition to loss of habitat, hunting, poaching, and getting run over are some of the biggest threats facing the province's turtle population.
In an effort to slow the species' decline, Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has placed a permanent ban on the snapping turtle hunt — a decision that came after a vocal response from the public over the course of several months.
Opponents of the turtle hunt submitted 13,461 comments to the ministry, as noted in a government statement on the ban. The public discussion lasted 47 days, from mid-December 2016 to the end of January 2017.
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"Snapping turtle is a long-lived species that reproduces slowly and is subject to other significant stressors such as road mortality," the ministry's statement reads.
Prior to the ban, Ontario residents were legally permitted to kill two snapping turtles per day, the CBC reports.
"Turtles are one of the most endangered vertebrates on the planet; seven of eight in Ontario are listed as species at risk," Sue Carstairs, executive and medical director of the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre, told the Toronto Star. "Having a legal hunt for a species at risk does add that extra threat. Turtles have a unique life experience . . . The population cannot handle the loss of one adult."
Though the number of hunted snapping turtles in recent history doesn't sound significant (roughly 20, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry Kathryn McGarry told the Toronto Star), the impact on the species is significant.
The David Suzuki Foundation highlighted this threat in a statement in early April.
"Snapping turtle populations will decline with even minor increases in adult deaths," a statement from the organization reads. "Hunting adds to the cumulative adverse impacts of other significant threats to the species, making recovery more difficult and expensive."
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