Indigenous Partnerships Help Protect Local Turtle Population at Sudbury INO

posted: 19/01/2023

Our ongoing work on the Smelter Turtle Survey is an example of how our Sudbury INO maintains partnerships with local Indigenous communities with the aim of protecting biodiversity.

The Smelter Turtle Survey was first undertaken in May and June of 2020 by Sudbury INO, Tulloch Environmental Consultants and Wahnapitae First Nation. Five pond turtle surveys were conducted on Sudbury INO Smelter property to determine if turtles and their nesting grounds were present and, if so, recommend best management practices to protect and improve this biosphere.

The survey confirmed the presence of two species of turtles at the Smelter site, including the snapping turtle. Snapping turtle overwintering sites are considered a Significant Wildlife Habitat due to their at-risk status. A Significant Wildlife Habitat is defined as “ecologically important in terms of features, functions, representation or amount, and contributing to the quality and diversity of an identifiable geographic area or Natural Heritage System.”

As a result of the survey, “turtle crossing” signage has been placed where appropriate, including on two roadways within the Smelter property with the highest number of turtles observed. As well, species at risk and other wildlife-related information has been incorporated into the team’s ISO 14001 Environmental Management System awareness program. Smelter employees have been provided information on the turtles and are encouraged to report any turtle sightings. Last, barricades will be erected around sensitive turtle nesting sites to ensure the population is protected.

Should one of those Sudbury INO Smelter snapping turtles ever find itself feeling under the weather, it just might end up going home to a retiree from the Smelter’s Analytical Chemistry group, Gloria Morissette. Gloria used to work as a chemist, but now dedicates much of her time in retirement at the Turtle Pond Wildlife Centre, which specializes in the rescue and rehabilitation of turtles, as well as bats, and serves all northern Ontario. Gloria began the wildlife rescue centre on her family’s property in 2017. 

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