Turtle road hits 'heartbreaking'

Give a turtle a break this summer by braking for it when one is spotted trying to cross a road.
That's the ask of wildlife experts, who say the small reptiles deserve a bit of respect — some could be 100 years old, after all.
Joe Crowley, a provincial species-at-risk specialist, said Friday it's not just giant tortoises that can live for longer than a century.
Crowley, who is based in Peterborough, Ont., said there is growing evidence that painted turtles and snapping turtles — two species known to live in Northwestern Ontario — "could live for 100 years, or well over 100."
Though there are eight turtle species in Ontario, the type nature-lovers are most likely to see in the Thunder Bay area is the relatively hardy painted turtle, whose shell can grow as large as a pie plate.
"Painted turtles can be differentiated from snapping turtles by the colourful lines on their face and legs, as well as colourful patterns on the margin and underside of their shell," Crowley said.
"Snapping turtles (which can be twice the size) don't have much colour or pattern in comparison, and look more dinosaur-like."
Turtles big and small live long lives, but don't produce a lot of offspring; that's why people who admire them cringe when motorists thoughtlessly run them over.
"It's heartbreaking to see so many turtles getting hit on our roads," a Neebing resident said this week in an online post.
"Since roads are everywhere, they often need to cross them to get to their nesting sites," the post added. "About half of the turtles hit by cars are adult females on their way to lay eggs."
According to the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre, also located in Peterborough, reptiles are a good indicator of the health of the province's wetlands, "which are the most biologically diverse of all ecosystems."
"While Canada holds 25 per cent of the world's wetlands, we have already lost 70 per cent of them over the last century, due to human development," the centre added in a backgrounder.
The centre provides tips on how to deal with injured turtles. It can be reached by phone at 705-741-5000.

Carl Clutchey, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, The Chronicle-Journal