News / Ottawa

Ottawa group wants Ontario to end snapping turtle hunt

Province looking at restrictions, but not ending hunt.

The province currently allows people to hunt snapping turtles.

Torstar

The province currently allows people to hunt snapping turtles.

They’re big, they bite and they’re at risk.

But you can still hunt them in Ontario.

A local group says that could spell the end for snapping turtles.

And while the province is looking into restricting the hunt, local nature groups are hoping to do away with it entirely.

Local ecologist David Seburn who prepared the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club’s submission to the environmental registry said the province’s interest in continuing the hunt is “not based on science.”

“It’s based on the fact that we’ve done this historically, why don’t we keep on doing it? That’s not necessarily a good idea,” he said.

That’s because he says the hunt is not sustainable due to things like habitat reduction and road kill rates, as well as the way snapping turtles breed.

It takes about 20 years before a snapping turtle can give birth to any progeny, and when they do, their nests are often raided by predators, said Seburn.

“In addition, during June, typically when the adult females are out laying their eggs, those are the turtles that are most apt to be run over on the roads,” he said.

“We know that hundreds of snapping turtles are killed on the roads every year,” said Seburn. “We are killing the most valuable members of the population … and that does not make a lot of sense if you want to have a sustainable hunt.”

Currently, the province allows snapping turtles to be hunted all year in some areas and between July 15 and Sept. 15 in others. The daily bag limit is two, and the possession limit is five, according to the 2016 hunting regulations summary.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has proposed that it “restrict (the) snapping turtle harvest across Ontario.”

In addition to the local field-naturalists ’ club, Ontario Nature and the Canadian Herpetological Society are also calling for an end to the snapping turtle hunt, said Seburn.

Comments on the province’s proposed changes to its hunting regulations are open until Jan. 30.

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