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Dam Turtles!!! - Turtle Puts the Brakes on Local Construction Project

The Fairy Lake Dam construction project that began in 2020 has had to hit pause. The dam work was completed last year with the observation deck scheduled to be replaced starting this spring.


In May, local resident, Peter Duncanson, noticed that much of the construction materials had been placed in an area where a snapping turtle traditionally laid her eggs. He contacted Michelle Mathies, the Project Manager for the town of Halton Hills. “She was great. Someone was out right away to move everything” said Duncanson. And, he thought, crisis averted.


Snapping turtles, are listed as a species of “special concern” in both the province and Canada, according to ontarioturtle.ca. They live up to 100 years but their survival rate into adulthood is very low.


In June, the turtle returned once again to lay her eggs but, Duncanson suspects, the area she traditionally used had been altered in the construction. Perhaps the drainage had changed, maybe it was the new landscaping fabric, whatever the reason, she decided to move slightly east. Luckily another resident noticed, snapped a photo and called 311 and Duncanson.


Duncanson responded by placing one of his turtle nesting boxes over the nest. The town and the Ministry of Natural Resources came out to inspect as the nest is right at the mouth of the deck replacement project.


“The completion of the project was delayed to ensure that the nest would not be disturbed, giving the eggs the best chance of hatching successfully,” said Bill Andrews, Commissioner of Transportation & Public Works for the Town of Halton Hills. “Although the delay in the viewing deck construction is inconvenient, it’s a demonstration of the Town’s commitment to the environment.”


The town replaced Duncanson’s nesting boxes with one of their own, returning his for nests found on private property. They also put up some additional fencing to help keep people out. “There are about 30 nesting boxes around Fairy Lake this year” he says. “We are very lucky to have this lake in town” which is home to “snapping and painted turtles mainly, but also some other species”. Duncanson applauds Halton Hills for their turtle conservation efforts, “You wouldn’t have seen this, even 10 years ago. We’ve come a long way.”


All turtle species in Ontario are considered at risk provincially and/or federally. For more information you can visit ontarioturtle.ca or https://thinkturtleconservationinitiative.wordpress.com/


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