Ontario bans snapping turtle hunt after public outcry

Ontario bans snapping turtle hunt after public outcry

Ontario has ended its open season on snapping turtles.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry amended its regulations after months of public consultation, introducing an all out ban on the snapping turtle hunt.

The ministry received more than 13,460 comments, many of which focused on "opposition" to the turtle hunt, according to a breakdown of the government's decision posted on its website.

"Snapping turtle is a long-lived species that reproduces slowly and is subject to other significant stressors, such as road mortality," the statement reads.

People could kill two turtles each day

Before the snapping turtle ban, which took effect April 1, residents of Ontario could legally kill two snappers each day.

"I was thrilled," said Town of Essex Coun. Sherry Bondy, who has been leading the fight to stop killing snapping turtles since 2012.

Bondy said other members of council were "elated" to hear the news when she contacted them. 

"We had a chuckle because when Essex council passed the ban for circuses, the next thing we knew Ringling Brothers came along and stopped their circuses, so I feel like we're on fire," she said about the town's successes.

The decision to stop the snapping-turtle hunt was celebrated by environmental organizations around the country, including the David Suzuki Foundation.

Turtles take long time to mature

Snapping turtles are considered a species of "special concern" in Ontario, according to the Suzuki Foundation, which issued a statement about the hunt being unsustainable. 

"Snapping turtle populations will decline with even minor increases in adult deaths," it read. "Hunting adds to the cumulative adverse impacts of other significant threats to the species, making recovery more difficult and expensive."

Bondy said officials in Essex are already looking forward to their next animal welfare project. She hopes to push the town to significantly reduce how long a dog can be tied up outdoors, going from 12 hours down to four.