Shellback safety: please look out for turtles



Kate Aley

It's the height of summer and turtles are getting all maternal. The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) are raising awareness of these beautiful creatures' seasonal need to crawl around on the side of the road -- and occasionally lurch their way across it -- with their Carapace initiative. Visit to learn about how to report the sighting of a turtle - live or dead -- along the highway. The NCC uses this information to identify what kind of turtles live in the area and to plan ways to protect them. Pick up a sticker at your local depanneur and help educate your friends and neighbours. asked Caroline Gagné, Project Manager Outaouais and acting chief of sciences for the Quebec region of the NCC, a few more questions about turtles in this region. Why do turtles sometimes try to cross the road?

Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC): It’s not unusual to see a turtle cross the road. During their active season, from May to October, turtles are on the move to search for food, find a new habitat, look for a mate, or lay eggs.

P2020: Why do they want to lay their eggs in the sand/gravel along the side of the road?

NCC: Sand and gravel are ideal substrate for turtles to lay their eggs. Sometimes they can’t find a suitable habitat in nature because of habitat destruction so they use what they can find, and gravel shoulders are common in rural areas.

P2020: What happens if a turtle gets hit by a car but isn't killed?

NCC: If a turtle is badly injured after being hit by a car, take it to a local animal shelter or a veterinarian. They will assess the situation and may decide to euthanize the animal to prevent unnecessary suffering. In some cases, the shell can be patched up to help the turtle heal and get back to its habitat.

P2020: What should I do when I see a turtle trying to cross the road?

NCC:  Always consider your own safety first. You can help the turtle cross the road in the direction in which it is already headed. Do not move it to a different spot and do not put it back in the water. If you need to pick it up, never hold it by its tail. Instead grab the shell near the back with both hands while staying close to the ground, or push the turtle very gently across the road with an object.

 P2020: Why are turtles important within the ecosystem?

NCC:  All animals are important within an ecosystem. Turtle have a role both a as predator and a prey. They help clean up ponds or lakes by eating plants, insects, and dead fish while creating food for other animals. They also help to disperse other life forms by traveling from wetlands to wetlands. Removing any species from its ecosystem can drastically affect the balance by altering other organisms. As humans, we don’t necessarily see the impact of each species on our well-being, though a slight change may have a trickle effect which can eventually have consequences on our lives.

P2020: How long does it take for a turtle to grow to maturity?

NCC:  The age of maturity varies among species and genders. Turtles may take up to 25 years before reaching maturity and starting to reproduce.

P2020: Are there rare turtles in the Pontiac area?

NCC:  The Pontiac is very lucky to exceptionally have five turtle species in its area: the Midland Painted Turtle, the Snapping Turtle, the Map Turtle, the Blanding’s Turtle and the Musk Turtle. The Painted and Snapping turtles are common species in Quebec while the other three are rare.

All species except the painted turtle are classified as species at risk at either the national level, provincial level or both. Most turtles are at risk because of the combination of turtle biology and human impacts. Turtles have a late maturity and a low egg survival rate (approximately 2 eggs out of 100 become adult turtles). To maintain their numbers within a population, turtles therefore count on the survival of the adults, especially the females. However, the presence of humans in the habitat brings many threats and increases adult mortality rates, which can have serious consequences on a population. For example, scientists have determined that an increase of more than five percent in annual mortality for the Wood and Blanding’s turtles could lead to the decline of a population. Every effort counts to protect our turtle populations!

Nos autres nouvelles / Our other News

Online Survey: Benefiting from Nature in the Pontiac


Do you spend time outside enjoying nature?  If so, McGill University PhD student Dalal Hanna would love to hear from you in an anonymous online survey.  She is conducting a research project on the diverse ways people living in the regions of Bristol and Pontiac benefit from nature, and how they would ideally like to benefit from nature in the future. Dalal does this research because it generates information that can help society come up with improved ways to manage the diverse benefits we get from nature. The project seeks to improve knowledge and is purely academic.

The summarized and anonymous findings of the project will also be shared with your community in December 2018 at a gathering, and made available publicly online and to local land use planners.  

Sondage: profiter de la nature dans le Pontiac


Est-ce que vous passez du temps à apprécier la nature ? Si oui, une étudiante au doctorat à l’Université McGill, Dalal Hanna, a un sondage web anonyme à vous proposer. Elle fait présentement de la recherche sur les diverses façons dont les gens des régions de Bristol et de Pontiac profitent de la nature, et comment ils aimeraient idéalement profiter de la nature dans le futur. Dalal fait cette recherche parce que ça génère de l’information qui peut aider la société à développer des meilleures façons de gérer l’environnent. Son projet cherche à améliorer les connaissances, et est purement académique.

Un sommaire anonyme des résultats sera partagé dans votre communauté en Décembre 2018, ainsi que disponible en ligne.

Si ce projet vous intéresse, s’il vous plait visitez le sondage en ligne ici :

Le sondage prend environ 30 minutes à compléter.

Si vous avez des questions, n’hésitez pas à contacter Dalal Hanna par courriel ( Vous pouvez aussi contacter son superviseur de doctorat, Elena Bennett (

Merci énormément pour votre temps !

Early Morning Blaze Destroys Barn in Luskville



Thomas Soulière reader Nina Lépine-Forget alerted us to the fire and sent us this image of the blaze taken just before the arrival of firefighters to the scene

An early morning fire completely destroyed a barn on a farm located at 2002 route 148 (chemin Eardley) in the Luskville sector in the Municipality of Pontiac Monday.

Le tour des jardins et cadeaux du Pontiac


Le tour des jardins et cadeaux du Pontiac est une visite auto-guidée de neuf jardins champêtres. L’accent porte sur les méthodes écologiques, les aménagements favorisant la biodiversité et les plantes indigènes. Des artisans du Pontiac seront sur place pour vous faire découvrir leur art, livres et cartes. Les jardiniers vous proposeront quant à eux, des légumes écologiques, des semences et des plantes, ainsi que des tisanes, paniers et différents produits de leur terroir.

Great gardens and gorgeous gifts on tour


Pontiac Gardens and Gifts is a self-guided garden tour featuring nine country gardens in West Quebec’s beautiful Pontiac region. The focus is on organic techniques, wildlife-friendly designs and native plants. In addition, regional artists and artisans will sell their art, books and cards. Some gardens will be selling nursery stock and seeds, organic produce, herbal products and more.