Yule-logs - A Story from the Western Painted Turtle's Point of View

wpt alan st johnThe world is changing and we all want to do what we can to make sure that change is for the best. As a community, one of the best things we can do to remain resilient in the face of change is to preserve undisturbed habitat for a diversity of wildlife. As Dr. Richard Hebda said during a recent talk,

“We don’t know what is best suited to the future, so we need to keep all of the parts to be prepared.”

The loss of natural areas, climate change and increase in human disturbances makes life tough for the many wild species and the habitats they ultimately depend on. We need your help to provide natural refuges in the face of change.

(Photo right: taken by Alan St. John)

Can you imagine for a moment what life must be like for our endangered Western Painted Turtles to get by? From a distance, it seems as though a turtle’s life is easy. But if turtles could talk, what would they say?

Let’s put ourselves in their shell…

“These days there’s lots to worry about, I’m sure you can relate. After I wake up from my winter-long mud-bath, I assure you, it’s no day at the spa. Even though I’m groggy from hibernation, I have to pull myself from the muck and watch for danger. The shorelines of our favourite lakes have drastically changed making it tough to find a place to haul out of the water and warm up.

Last spring, I crawled out of hibernation only to find the shore covered in weedy thistles. When it came time to lay my eggs in the summer, I couldn’t find a suitable spot in such an overrun place. I went in search of a better nesting ground. Between this lake and the next was a busy stretch of road. I was able to make it across, but sadly my sister was not…

painted turtle on road truck

Things are looking up in some ways though. The humans with Habitat Acquisition Trust came to our lake and removed the nasty thistles. Now I have room to dig a nest and lay 6-18 ping-pong ball sized eggs. I wish my sister could see it.

Hatchling Kristiina Ovaska from facebookNot only that, but those people also brought us more logs. The ducks seem to think the logs are for them, but I suppose we can share.

For us turtles, a log is not a luxury. We need them as a place to rest, keep a watchful eye for predators, and to raise our body temperatures as we search for food and mates.
I would thank the thoughtful humans, if only they could understand.

I wonder if this winter, while we’re cozied up at the bottom of the lake and they’re enjoying Yule log cake, whether they’ll be thinking of us and our logs too?”

- Bella Picta, The Western Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta bellii)

Did you know that the Western Painted Turtle is Vancouver Island’s last remaining native turtle species?

volunteers CRD weeding seeing hatchlingsThe Species of Concern stewardship programs continue thanks to your generous contributions. At HAT, we are working hard to protect ecologically significant species just like our Western Painted Turtles with landowners across the region.

Your support helps protect important spaces like turtle ponds, wetlands for frogs, and important wildlife corridors. You can leave a legacy with a gift that creates space for wildlife right now and forever – make it your New Year’s Resolution.

How much does it take to make a difference to the Painted Turtle?

$250.00 provides fencing and material for nest enhancement at turtle habitat
$75.00 prepares and installs one Painted Turtle basking “Yule log”
$25.00 removes a cubic meter of invasive plants for nesting turtles

Make a difference today for our only species of local turtles and for our community.

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