Ontario turtles endangered by poaching

The Ontario Association of Crime Stoppers and the Toronto Zoo have come together in an attempt to end illegal harvesting and trading of turtles.

Taking turtles from the wild is on par with other illegal wildlife crimes such as poaching for elephant ivory and rhino horns. The global illegal wildlife trade is worth up to $30 billion a year.


“The illegal trade of wildlife is the fourth most lucrative criminal activity world-wide, only exceeded by the trade of narcotics, counterfeiting and human trafficking”, explained the president of the Ontario Association of Crime Stoppers. “Crime Stopper programs throughout Ontario, Canada and the world are assisting law enforcement by engaging the community to anonymously report these illegal activities to Crime Stoppers”.

In Ontario seven of the eight native turtle species are endangered. Such species include wood turtles, spotted turtles and Blanding’s turtles. Collectors prize these species and seek them for their collections. Some people also seek snapping turtles out for food.

It doesn’t matter if a backyard poacher takes just one turtle or professional poachers take many the turtle breeding cycle is so slow that taking just one out of the habitat can be fatal. Turtles also face other threats such as habitat loss, being victims of roadkill and their natural predators such as raccoons and skunks taking their eggs.


Dr Andrew Lentini, Tornonto Zoo’s reptile and amphibian curator said, “Poaching is a serious issue which can have detrimental impacts on the sustainability of turtle populations.”

Toronto Zoo and Crime Stoppers provided four simple activities people can undertake to help stop the illegal trade in turtles. These include –

  1. Contributing to the Ontario turtle tally by contributing wild turtle sightings at http://www.torontozoo.com/AdoptAPond/turtletally.asp. By gathering fata of where turtles live in the province crime stoppers know where at risk populations are and can provide greater vigilance in these areas.
  2. You can report suspected crime to crime stoppers or the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.
  3. Make sure to tell your friends as most people don’t realise taking an animal from the wild is illegal.
  4. Also watch for suspicious activity which may include off-trail activities, overnight parking or angles who have many buckets or snares.

Photo Credits: Toronto Zoo

By Cale Russell

TheAnimalFacts.com is a testament to Cale’s commitment to the education of people around the world on the topic of animals and conservation, through the sharing of topical and newsworthy information.

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