Help Give Rare Turtles a Home for the Holidays

24 Nov 2016
Wink and Atahualpa are adorable, yet highly endangered Blanding’s Turtles, some of a small number still surviving in Nova Scotia. We can save a critical natural sanctuary for Wink and his endangered friends, and we are asking for your help.

We have an agreement to purchase a 36 acre property at Barren Meadow in southwest Nova Scotia. We have just over a month to raise the remaining $20,000 needed to make the rare turtle sanctuary a reality.  The closing date for the property is December 19th.

Blanding’s Turtles are listed on both the Canadian and Nova Scotian endangered species lists.  There are only about 350 turtles left in the province. With less than 1% of hatchlings surviving, and much of their habitat increasingly threatened by habitat loss and degradation, it is vital to protect the last remaining refuges.

Barren Meadow provides important turtle habitat. Two branches of Barren Meadow Brook pass through the property then join with Pleasant River. The brook is deeply cut, and holds water throughout even the driest summers, ensuring the turtles can easily forage for food along the side of the brook. Blanding’s turtles travel great distances away from streams and rivers in search of basking and nesting sites. Although mostly forested, the property also includes bogs, the “barrens” that gave the area their name and unique geological features with bands of rock outcrops occurring in strips throughout the forest.

The Barren Meadow sanctuary builds on a growing network of protected Blanding’s Turtle habitat in the area.  To date, we have protected seven properties near Barren Meadow, encompassing over 270 acres for these endangered turtles. The Barren Meadow site is also surrounded by the proposed Shingle Lake Nature Reserve (pending designation by the Province), which will protect adjoining turtle habitat.

Researchers with the Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute (MTRI) have spent three summers studying turtles in Barren Meadow, getting to know the turtles so well they are individually named. Atahualpa got his name when researchers found him being carried on top of other turtles.  Atahualpa was the Inca King who was carried by his subjects when he met the Spanish conquistadors.

MTRI’s extensive research helps to identify critical areas for protection by the Nature Trust. Jeffie McNeil, a species-at-risk biologist with MTRI, highlighted the importance of the Barren Meadow site. “A high proportion of young turtles have been detected in this area, making it particularly important to conserve.”

Nova Scotians have a unique opportunity to make a difference for rare turtles, and to give Atahualpa and Wink a home this holiday season and for many holidays to come.

The Nature Trust must raise $20,000 by the December 19th closing date.  They have issued an appeal for $10,000 in public support, which will be generously matched by $10,000 in matching grants from the Nova Scotia Crown Share Land Legacy Trust and the Marguerite Hubbard Charitable Foundation.  Together these funds will make it possible to acquire and ensure the sanctuary is protected and stewarded in perpetuity.

“With so few Blanding’s Turtles left in Nova Scotia, their fate is truly in our hands,” said Bonnie Sutherland, Nature Trust Executive Director. “Saving their remaining habitat is critical to the survival not just of Wink and Atahualpa, but to this entire species in Nova Scotia.”

Donate online now to save the Barren Meadow turtle sanctuary, or call (902) 425-5263.

The Nature Trust’s endangered species work receives financial support of the Government of Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program. Thanks to ongoing support from government and other generous community partners and individual supporters, the Nature Trust protects outstanding conservation lands all across the province. These sites include other critical turtle sanctuaries at McGowan Lake and Bull Moose Meadow conservation lands. These conservation lands were also made possible by the generosity of our amazing supporters.

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