Western painted turtles at Cranbrook’s Elizabeth Lake have begun coming out of their burrows, bringing in another year of conservation work.
The Fish and Wildlife Compensation Progam (FWCP) along with the Rocky Mountain Naturalist Society used the opportunity to teach children about the at-risk species and conservation efforts aimed at protecting the turtles.
Angus Glass with the FWCP said the local turtle population is doing well, despite some predator activity.
“The nests are dug in June or July of last year. There was predation, but we have about 70 or more nests. The turtles are looking good,” said Glass. “Many of the turtles are emerging today, so it’s pretty cool.”
Glass said the turtles emerged over the weekend, after spending the winter months buried along the lake’s shoreline.
“They came out of their shells in the fall of last year, but if they came out of their shells, there would be so little food to eat that they actually stay underground,” said Glass. “They’re not in the mud, not in the lake, they’re outside on the lakeshore, in the substrate.”
According to the government of Canada’s endangered species registry, western painted turtles are indigenous to B.C., and they face a number of threats, such as habitat loss, threats from invasive species, and road mortality.
Glass said people visiting lakes should be careful around the turtle’s nesting grounds.
“Turtle nesting grounds are used nearly year-round, except for a few weeks, so please be careful where you tread. Be respectful of the turtles, they’re great to watch,” said Glass.
Western Painted Turtles are considered a blue-listed species in B.C., meaning they are considered at-risk.