The Nature Trust announced on Dec. 20 the permanent protection of 75 acres of critical habitat for the endangered Blanding’s turtle in Kempt, near Kejimkujik National Park and Historic Site.
© Megan Crowley photo
Bull Moose Meadow provides important freshwater wetland habitats for the turtles, says the group. It is also a key property in the middle of a proposed 2,800 acre nature reserve. This large protected area will provide extensive, interconnected habitat and corridors for the turtles and other species at risk including birds, snakes and rare plants. The property is adjacent to previously protected Nature Trust lands at Meadow Brook, and surrounded by Crown lands to the east, west and south. The Crown lands are slated for protection through the Province’s 12 per cent protected area commitment. This major nature reserve, a partnership between the Nature Trust and the Province, will provide the first significant protected area for the Pleasant River population of Blanding’s turtles, one of only three populations in the province. The other two populations are found at Kejimkujik and McGowan Lake, where the Nature Trust also has protected habitat.
The Blanding’s turtle is one of the longest-lived and slowest maturing freshwater turtles in Canada. They live up to 80 years and reach maturity at age 20, much like humans. The tiny hatchlings have a survival rate of less than 1 per cent, and with expanding cottage development and roads in the areas where these turtles live, the endangered turtles are struggling to survive.
With less than 500 adult Blanding’s left in Nova Scotia, scientists suggest that populations are on the decline and that conservation of critical habitats is key to their survival. Experts on the provincial Recovery Team for Blanding’s Turtles cite land conservation as essential in addressing some of the most serious threats to these turtles, ranging from habitat destruction, fragmentation and loss to human-caused mortality.
Part of the Nature Trust’s efforts to protect some of Canada’s most endangered species, Bull Moose Meadow is the 5th conservation site the land trust has protected for Blanding’s turtles. At this same time last year, many Nova Scotians stepped forward with donations to help save the McGowan Lake Turtle Sanctuary, one of the most important breeding sites in the province for these imperiled turtles.
The protection of Bull Moose Meadow was made possible by grants from Environment Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, Davis Conservation Foundation as well as the ongoing support of the Nature Trust’s friends and supporters.