What you can do to help Western Painted Turtles

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The Western Painted Turtle is Vancouver Island's last remaining native turtle species.  They are an endangered species, and they need your help!

If you find a turtle

Many people are concerned for Western Painted Turtles they find in unexpected places, including backyards, roads, and ditches. While it is tempting to "help", often we ending doing more harm than good. Turtles are almost never lost - they are where they are for reason, even if it's only known to them. Sometimes, unfortunately, where they are is not safe, and that's when it's time to help.

When to help

painted turtle on road truckIf the turtle is in immediate danger, such as on a road, please move it out of danger in the same direction it was facing.

When to record and report

If the turtle is somewhere unexpected - a backyard for instance - do not move the turtle unless absolutely necessary.  Instead take a picture of the turtle and its surroundings, make a note what it is doing, and send us an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call us at 250 995-2428.  Do make sure the turtle is safe from threats, such as dogs and cars.

If you have a turtle on your property

Turtles typically live in wetlands or lakes, but they do use "dry land" for nesting and mitigation. If you find a turtle on your property, please record and report it, but try to interfere with it as little as possible.  Some land care practices can make life very difficult for turtles.  Retaining walls are impossible for turtles to climb, and replacing sandy soils with turf can accidentally disrupt nesting sites.  If you live in an area frequented by Western Painted Turtles, HAT would be happy to visit you, and help you find ways to conserve habitat features on your property that are important for turtles and other species that rely on wetlands and riparian areas.

As a Volunteer

Volunteers are needed to track Western Painted Turtles at the Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary. A very regular committment is needed, but the information you collect will help us not only protect turtles in and around Swan Lake, but give a better understanding of how Western Painted Turtles naviagate complex urban landscapes many now find themselves in.  Contact the Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary for more information about volunteering at the Sanctuary.


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