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Ontario’s “Turtle Taxi” heroes saving turtles

In the heart of Ontario, a dedicated group of unsung heroes, clothed not in capes but in the garb of everyday volunteers, are deeply involved in the rescue and rehabilitation of the province’s most at-risk residents: injured turtles. The Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre’s (OTCC) “Turtle Taxi” program, operational since 2009, plays a pivotal role in the safe transportation of these vulnerable reptiles across Ontario to receive specialized care, employing both automotive and aerial means to ensure the prompt and secure arrival at the OTCC.

The Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre, uniquely positioned as Canada’s only wild turtle hospital with accreditation from the College of Veterinarians of Ontario (CVO), adheres to the highest standards under the watchful eyes of licensed veterinarians. It stands as a beacon of hope for injured turtles, providing them with a chance to recover from severe injuries and be reintroduced into their natural habitats. In 2023, the dedicated efforts of the Turtle Taxi volunteers were instrumental in admitting 2,000 turtles to the OTCC, incubating 7,000 eggs, and successfully releasing 3,500 turtles back into the wild, each within a kilometer of their original location.

Among these volunteers is Wayne Harvey, a semi-retired hobby pilot from St. Thomas, Ontario, who has been contributing to the OTCC since 2019. Beyond his duties at Western University and the local municipal airport, Wayne finds profound fulfillment in flying for the “Turtle Taxi” program, merging his passion for aviation with a heartfelt commitment to conservation. This endeavor offers him not just a meaningful pastime but a chance to impact positively the survival of these creatures.

The “Turtle Taxi” network, boasting over 1,200 volunteers throughout Ontario, is a testament to collective action’s power in safeguarding our natural heritage. These volunteers, including Wayne, have played a crucial role in rehabilitating and releasing thousands of turtles, securing the future of these precious animals and the biodiversity of Ontario’s wetlands.

The unwavering commitment of volunteers like Wayne and the crucial interventions by the OTCC afford Ontario’s turtles a vital lifeline against the threats they encounter. Ultimately, their efforts transcend the rescue of individual turtles, contributing to the preservation of Ontario’s wetland biodiversity and natural splendor, a cause that all involved carry forward with pride and dedication.

Source: Cottage Life