For the sake of snakes (and turtles, too)

Community Jul 17, 2017 by Lisa Timpf Norfolk News

If you do an online search for "fears and phobias," chances are that snakes will feature prominently on whichever list your web browser takes you to. Many people feel that the less they see of snakes, the better.

But if the folks at the Long Point Basin Land Trust had their way, we'd be spotting more snakes, not fewer, in the region. The same goes for turtles, too.

The Land Trust's mandate includes protecting natural habitats and promoting conservation efforts through research, outreach, habitat restoration and species-at-risk recovery projects.

Snakes and turtles can use their help. Of the 19 species of snakes and turtles that call the Long Point Basin home, 12 are classified as endangered, threatened or special concern. The latter category, notes Long Point Basin Land Trust stewardship co-ordinator Lyndsay Shular, means that while the species may not be in imminent danger, “the population could be at risk if measures aren't taken.”

Human impacts such as habitat destruction or disturbance, acts of deliberate malice, poaching and car strikes are significant contributors to reptilian population woes.

It stands to reason if people are part of the problem, they should be part of the solution. One of the issues is lack of suitable overwintering and nesting sites for reptiles. To address this problem, the Land Trust has established 63 reptile habitats. Many of these habitats, which include mounds where turtles can lay their eggs, hibernacula where snakes can hang out over the winter, and snake nesting boxes, are situated on Land Trust properties. Others are located on properties owned by conservation-conscious organizations or individuals.

How can we tell if the assistance efforts are effective? That's where members of the public come in.

"If anyone sees any kind of turtle or snake in the Long Point Basin, we want to hear about it," Shular says.

Sightings can be reported by email, mail, or phone, or by using an online form on the Land Trust's website (longpointlandtrust.ca). The website includes photos to help with species identification, but if you aren't sure what you've seen, you can snap a picture and include it with your data.

Information about live sightings helps the Land Trust keep tabs on population health. Equally important are reports about dead reptiles, particularly along roadsides. That's because identifying "hot spots" — stretches of road where there is high mortality for snakes or turtles — can spur preventive action.

Long Point Provincial Park is a case in point. When surveys identified high numbers of snake and turtle deaths along a stretch of road leading into the campground, a reptile fence was erected.

"It's reduced road mortality by up to 91 per cent," Shular notes.

And that's important, particularly for threatened species.

"It can take some turtle species 20 years to get to reproduction age," Shular says. "Any death is detrimental, especially if it's a breeding female."

Reptiles occupy an important niche in the ecosystem. Snakes can be beneficial around the garden, too, consuming harmful insects as well as keeping the rodent population in check.

The Long Point Basin Land Trust website has tips on making your property more reptile-friendly. In doing so, you'd be helping to ensure snakes and turtles can continue to make a home in the Long Point Basin for years to come.

Snakes and turtles native to the Long Point Basin

The Long Point Basin includes all of Norfolk County, as well as portions of Haldimand, Elgin, Brant and Oxford counties. Below is a list of snakes and turtles native to the Long Point Basin, along with their conservation status.

Turtles

Endangered: Spotted Turtle

Threatened: Blanding's Turtle, Eastern Musk Turtle, Spiny Softshell

Special Concern: Northern Map Turtle, Snapping Turtle

Other species: Midland Painted Turtle

Snakes (note: all snakes native to the Long Point Basin are nonvenomous)

Endangered: Eastern Foxsnake, Gray Ratsnake, Queensnake

Threatened: Eastern Hog-nosed Snake

Special Concern: Milksnake, Eastern Ribbonsnake

Other: DeKay's Brownsnake, Red-Bellied Snake, Northern Ring-necked Snake, Eastern Gartersnake, Northern Watersnake, Smooth Greensnake

For the sake of snakes (and turtles, too)

Residents asked to report reptile sightings in order to ensure conservation efforts are working

Community Jul 17, 2017 by Lisa Timpf Norfolk News

If you do an online search for "fears and phobias," chances are that snakes will feature prominently on whichever list your web browser takes you to. Many people feel that the less they see of snakes, the better.

But if the folks at the Long Point Basin Land Trust had their way, we'd be spotting more snakes, not fewer, in the region. The same goes for turtles, too.

The Land Trust's mandate includes protecting natural habitats and promoting conservation efforts through research, outreach, habitat restoration and species-at-risk recovery projects.

Snakes and turtles can use their help. Of the 19 species of snakes and turtles that call the Long Point Basin home, 12 are classified as endangered, threatened or special concern. The latter category, notes Long Point Basin Land Trust stewardship co-ordinator Lyndsay Shular, means that while the species may not be in imminent danger, “the population could be at risk if measures aren't taken.”

Human impacts such as habitat destruction or disturbance, acts of deliberate malice, poaching and car strikes are significant contributors to reptilian population woes.

It stands to reason if people are part of the problem, they should be part of the solution. One of the issues is lack of suitable overwintering and nesting sites for reptiles. To address this problem, the Land Trust has established 63 reptile habitats. Many of these habitats, which include mounds where turtles can lay their eggs, hibernacula where snakes can hang out over the winter, and snake nesting boxes, are situated on Land Trust properties. Others are located on properties owned by conservation-conscious organizations or individuals.

How can we tell if the assistance efforts are effective? That's where members of the public come in.

"If anyone sees any kind of turtle or snake in the Long Point Basin, we want to hear about it," Shular says.

Sightings can be reported by email, mail, or phone, or by using an online form on the Land Trust's website (longpointlandtrust.ca). The website includes photos to help with species identification, but if you aren't sure what you've seen, you can snap a picture and include it with your data.

Information about live sightings helps the Land Trust keep tabs on population health. Equally important are reports about dead reptiles, particularly along roadsides. That's because identifying "hot spots" — stretches of road where there is high mortality for snakes or turtles — can spur preventive action.

Long Point Provincial Park is a case in point. When surveys identified high numbers of snake and turtle deaths along a stretch of road leading into the campground, a reptile fence was erected.

"It's reduced road mortality by up to 91 per cent," Shular notes.

And that's important, particularly for threatened species.

"It can take some turtle species 20 years to get to reproduction age," Shular says. "Any death is detrimental, especially if it's a breeding female."

Reptiles occupy an important niche in the ecosystem. Snakes can be beneficial around the garden, too, consuming harmful insects as well as keeping the rodent population in check.

The Long Point Basin Land Trust website has tips on making your property more reptile-friendly. In doing so, you'd be helping to ensure snakes and turtles can continue to make a home in the Long Point Basin for years to come.

Snakes and turtles native to the Long Point Basin

The Long Point Basin includes all of Norfolk County, as well as portions of Haldimand, Elgin, Brant and Oxford counties. Below is a list of snakes and turtles native to the Long Point Basin, along with their conservation status.

Turtles

Endangered: Spotted Turtle

Threatened: Blanding's Turtle, Eastern Musk Turtle, Spiny Softshell

Special Concern: Northern Map Turtle, Snapping Turtle

Other species: Midland Painted Turtle

Snakes (note: all snakes native to the Long Point Basin are nonvenomous)

Endangered: Eastern Foxsnake, Gray Ratsnake, Queensnake

Threatened: Eastern Hog-nosed Snake

Special Concern: Milksnake, Eastern Ribbonsnake

Other: DeKay's Brownsnake, Red-Bellied Snake, Northern Ring-necked Snake, Eastern Gartersnake, Northern Watersnake, Smooth Greensnake

For the sake of snakes (and turtles, too)

Residents asked to report reptile sightings in order to ensure conservation efforts are working

Community Jul 17, 2017 by Lisa Timpf Norfolk News

If you do an online search for "fears and phobias," chances are that snakes will feature prominently on whichever list your web browser takes you to. Many people feel that the less they see of snakes, the better.

But if the folks at the Long Point Basin Land Trust had their way, we'd be spotting more snakes, not fewer, in the region. The same goes for turtles, too.

The Land Trust's mandate includes protecting natural habitats and promoting conservation efforts through research, outreach, habitat restoration and species-at-risk recovery projects.

Snakes and turtles can use their help. Of the 19 species of snakes and turtles that call the Long Point Basin home, 12 are classified as endangered, threatened or special concern. The latter category, notes Long Point Basin Land Trust stewardship co-ordinator Lyndsay Shular, means that while the species may not be in imminent danger, “the population could be at risk if measures aren't taken.”

Human impacts such as habitat destruction or disturbance, acts of deliberate malice, poaching and car strikes are significant contributors to reptilian population woes.

It stands to reason if people are part of the problem, they should be part of the solution. One of the issues is lack of suitable overwintering and nesting sites for reptiles. To address this problem, the Land Trust has established 63 reptile habitats. Many of these habitats, which include mounds where turtles can lay their eggs, hibernacula where snakes can hang out over the winter, and snake nesting boxes, are situated on Land Trust properties. Others are located on properties owned by conservation-conscious organizations or individuals.

How can we tell if the assistance efforts are effective? That's where members of the public come in.

"If anyone sees any kind of turtle or snake in the Long Point Basin, we want to hear about it," Shular says.

Sightings can be reported by email, mail, or phone, or by using an online form on the Land Trust's website (longpointlandtrust.ca). The website includes photos to help with species identification, but if you aren't sure what you've seen, you can snap a picture and include it with your data.

Information about live sightings helps the Land Trust keep tabs on population health. Equally important are reports about dead reptiles, particularly along roadsides. That's because identifying "hot spots" — stretches of road where there is high mortality for snakes or turtles — can spur preventive action.

Long Point Provincial Park is a case in point. When surveys identified high numbers of snake and turtle deaths along a stretch of road leading into the campground, a reptile fence was erected.

"It's reduced road mortality by up to 91 per cent," Shular notes.

And that's important, particularly for threatened species.

"It can take some turtle species 20 years to get to reproduction age," Shular says. "Any death is detrimental, especially if it's a breeding female."

Reptiles occupy an important niche in the ecosystem. Snakes can be beneficial around the garden, too, consuming harmful insects as well as keeping the rodent population in check.

The Long Point Basin Land Trust website has tips on making your property more reptile-friendly. In doing so, you'd be helping to ensure snakes and turtles can continue to make a home in the Long Point Basin for years to come.

Snakes and turtles native to the Long Point Basin

The Long Point Basin includes all of Norfolk County, as well as portions of Haldimand, Elgin, Brant and Oxford counties. Below is a list of snakes and turtles native to the Long Point Basin, along with their conservation status.

Turtles

Endangered: Spotted Turtle

Threatened: Blanding's Turtle, Eastern Musk Turtle, Spiny Softshell

Special Concern: Northern Map Turtle, Snapping Turtle

Other species: Midland Painted Turtle

Snakes (note: all snakes native to the Long Point Basin are nonvenomous)

Endangered: Eastern Foxsnake, Gray Ratsnake, Queensnake

Threatened: Eastern Hog-nosed Snake

Special Concern: Milksnake, Eastern Ribbonsnake

Other: DeKay's Brownsnake, Red-Bellied Snake, Northern Ring-necked Snake, Eastern Gartersnake, Northern Watersnake, Smooth Greensnake