It is turtle season in the Creston Valley, and some local students have done their part in making sure their habitat is comfortable.
As part of the EcoStewards program, Wildsight educator Melissa Flint led Adam Robertson School’s Grade 6/7 students in preparing some turtle logs.
The western painted turtle is the only freshwater turtle in BC and they make their homes in large swamplands. That means the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area is a perfect place to settle down.
“They are a small turtle, and they have a very colorful tummy and some coloring on their neck,” explained Flint.
“That’s one of the reasons they get their name.”
Turtles, like all reptiles, are ectotherms, or cold-blooded. They must regulate their temperature using whatever climate they are in.
“Their temperature is related to the temperature of the environment, and so they’ll modify their behavior to be out in the sun more so that they can have more energy to digest, to hunt for food, to mate, to do all their biological processes.”
Hence, the turtle logs.
“Installing these turtle logs is a way for turtles to be able to grow and flourish by modifying their temperatures.”
Flint says the students were excellent helpers in making sure the turtles have a place to bask.
“Students are always excited to be outside and doing something a little bit different,” explained Flint.
“Turtles are such a charismatic animal and the students see them all the time. They have first-hand experiences with them in their own backyard, so they are very enthusiastic to be able to help these turtles by installing these basking logs in the Wildlife Management Area.”
Flint says those living in Creston are privileged to be able to share their home with all sorts of wildlife and, with that privilege, comes a responsibility to take care of them.
“There are wild neighbors and we are lucky to be living in a place that still has grizzly bears, still has elk, still has these Western painted turtles. It’s one of our responsibilities to make sure that there still is habitat and that all these wild animals can still call our valley home as well.”
She says the best way to pass on that lesson to the next generation is with programs like this.
In the meantime, there are still ways for everyone to help out.
“There are lots of ways to get involved and help the turtles. They nest at about this time of year. They’re going out to lay their eggs, so if people can slow down [on the road]. And get involved with turtles work with events like this.”