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More than 500 attend turtle release

Young people learn about turtles at educational display.


Turtle release event attracts more than 500 people in 2023
An estimated 577 people learn about turtles and habitat at eighth annual turtle hatchling release event, co-hosted by Huron Stewardship Council and Ausable Bayfield Conservation, at Morrison Dam Conservation Area east of Exeter.

The Huron Stewardship Council (HSC) and Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) co-hosted the eight Annual Hatchling Turtle Release event on Thursday, August 31, 2023. An estimated 577 people, including about 300 children, attended the event, at Morrison Dam Conservation Area, two kilometres east of Exeter.

Sheldon Paul is HSC Fieldwork Coordinator. He says the event, to release turtle hatchlings back into the wild, was a great day and the weather was beautiful. He thanked everyone who attended and everyone who donated towards turtle conservation. 

“This event is a great way to reach hundreds of people and give them a chance to see turtles and to learn about these important species and the habitat they need to survive and thrive,” he said.

Donations, combined with net proceeds from sales at the event, will support turtle conservation work.

The turtle release event included live reptiles from Scales Nature Park, family-friendly activities, and educational displays.

Turtles help to control aquatic vegetation and to clean creeks and wetlands by eating algae and dead and decaying fish and other organisms. People can protect turtles by watching for turtles on roads when driving, helping them safely cross roads in the way they are headed, protecting nests from predators, and reporting turtle sightings to community monitoring projects. Enhancing turtle habitat is also vital. 

“Some things we can do, to sustain our turtle species, are to plant native trees and shrubs, restore and enhance wetlands, and grow natural areas,” said Hope Brock, Healthy Watersheds Technician with Ausable Bayfield Conservation.

The turtle hatchling release event has taken place since 2016 (it was held as a virtual event in 2020 and 2021).

Ontario’s native freshwater turtles face many threats including habitat loss and road mortality (death by cars and other vehicles). Hundreds of turtles in Ontario are hit by cars each year in the spring, summer, and autumn. These could be gravid (pregnant) females looking for a place to lay eggs, or males and females looking for new ponds and mates.

People can help turtles by creating nesting habitat on their properties, stopping to help turtles cross the road in the direction they are heading (when it is safe to do so), and working with their local municipalities and communities to erect turtle crossing signs and build safe passages. People can also arrange for transport of injured turtles to the turtle hospital. People can also act to protect, create, and enhance the natural areas that provide the habitat for turtle hatchlings to eat, drink, reproduce, and grow and become the adult turtles of tomorrow. 

To learn more visit the Huron Stewardship Council website, and the Ausable Bayfield Conservation turtles page, or email the HSC at

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