Anishnabemowin and English language turtle crossing (Mikinaak Aazhga aatigong) signs have been installed at Curve Lake First Nation as part of a project funded by Environment and Climate Change Canada, in partnership with Otonabee Conservation and Curve Lake First Nation. Elders from Curve Lake worked together to translate the signs into Michi Saagig, the local dialect of Anishnabemowin, and graphics for the sign were provided by the Toronto Zoo Turtle Island Conservation Program.
“Installing signs in areas where mikinaak [turtles] have been observed crossing the roads is a simple way to remind residents and visitors to Curve Lake First Nation to be aware and take steps to avoid turtles when driving,” said Lorenzo Whetung, Curve Lake First Nation Community Member who initiated the project.
“There are eight species of turtles in Ontario, all of which are listed as Species at Risk by Environment and Climate Change Canada,” explained Meredith Carter, Manager, Watershed Management Program for Otonabee Conservation, “Reducing road mortality is an important step in the conservation and protection these important species.”
Mikinaak (Turtle) nesting season is end of May to early July. Females are vulnerable to collisions with vehicles during this time as they travel to and from nesting sites, which often requires crossing roads. Mikinaak (Turtles) can hatch and dig themselves out of their nest chambers from August to October and will then move to water, which may also require crossing roads so be aware of turtles during these times, too.
Staff from The Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre remind everyone that if you do stop to assist a mikinaak (turtle) crossing the road, ensuring your own safety is critical. Make sure you are safe from other vehicles and be sure to wash your hands after touching a mikinaak (turtle). Only lift a snapping turtle from the behind, as they can bite, but please never lift a mikinaak (turtle) by the tail! It is also vitally important to help the mikinaak (turtle) continue in the direction it was originally heading.
For further information contact:
Chief Emily Whetung
Curve Lake First Nation
CAO/Secretary-Treasurer | Otonabee Conservation
705-745-5791, ext. 222