Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Big Western Painted Turtle Hunt

I was amused by an article in our local Burnaby (BC) newspaper, that reports that biologists have tagged all of 6 Western painted turtles in Burnaby Lake, and are using radar and sonar to detect other turtles which are already starting to hibernate. Apparently there are some 100 Western painted turtles in the lake, making it a pretty significant population for an endangered species. My first thought on reading the article was that if I had been given more than 2 months to hunt down the turtles, I would have caught & tagged a lot more than 6 of them - bare-handed - if my own turtle-hunting record is any indication. (You can read about my Western painted turtle story here.) Here's a photo of "my" turtle from last summer:
Western painted turtle
My second thought is that I'm very glad I released "my" turtle back into the lake while it was still healthy, and it could find its way back in time to settle in and hibernate last winter.

After decades of environmental debate and debate about which of the 3 levels of government would finance the dredging, I am glad to hear that there is still plans to try to restore that poor lake, which has over the years filled in, so that not much is useable by people (the strip is all that is left for the rowers, who practise in the lake year round - rain or shine or snow!). The remainder of it is mostly marsh, and even when the lake is restored by dredging, there will be quite a bit of marshy habitat available in that area for the marsh-loving creatures. So I think it should accommodate everyone. Here is a photo of the "lake" from Google Maps (click photo for a larger view):
Burnaby Lake
At the Roberts Street end, there is a boat launch and small building for the rowing club events. At the Piper Avenue side, there is a nature house, and pier/walkway to access the lake. The trail system (visible in places as white lines) encircles the lake, but when we've walked the trails before, there was little sign of any lake nearby, since the trail is surrounded by trees and low-growing bush (red osier dogwoods and such) and then marsh. What is left of the actual lake is overgrown by waterlilies, so thick that it is hard to paddle a canoe through it.


Kate said...

My college roommate had a turtle. I'd never been around one before but hers had free reign over the entire apartment. You could hear him clunking down the hallway on the wood floors when he'd come to say hello! Isn't that wild? They live forever so I hope he is still harassing her roommates! :)

Powell River Books said...

Thanks for the visit. Glad you enjoyed my blog about Powell River. As you know, it's a great place. I had many painted turtles over my life. The last one was from my teaching days. I had him (her?) for many years and finally he moved to my parent's house where he had a big pool and pen to live in. It was in Southern California, so the weather was nice all year round for him to live outdoors. When they had to move we were lucky enough to find someone who wanted to add him to their family. He was pretty big by then and impressive as turtles go.

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